March 6, 2023

The Story on Macklemore’s Relapse

With the release of his new album, Macklemore has shared how COVID-19 led to a relapse. Here's how he found his way back into the light of recovery.

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The story of Macklemore’s relapse. Macklemore, whose real name is Benjamin Haggerty, is a Grammy Award-winning rapper and songwriter from Seattle, Washington. Macklemore has been remarkably candid in discussing his struggles with substance abuse and how he achieved sobriety through AA. 

Recently, he spoke about how the COVID-19 shutdown led to a relapse and how he found his way back into the light of recovery. 

Macklemore’s Struggle with Addiction

From his heartfelt lyrics to poignant interviews, the rapper has made it no secret that he has gone through a challenging addiction to drugs and alcohol.

He is both self-deprecating about his addiction journey and driven to inspire others with similar challenges.

It’s refreshingly honest for a celebrity of Macklemore’s stature to be so transparent about some of life’s most difficult moments.

In doing so, he has provided hope and motivation for countless individuals who have experienced the spiral of addiction.

Macklemore’s Relapse

Macklemore opened up about his challenges with substance abuse and his recent setback in recovery.

During an appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the 39-year-old rapper disclosed that he had suffered a relapse due to being unable to attend in-person 12-step meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a video clip published online on Tuesday, he said that he has been a recovering addict and alcoholic for the past 14 years.

Attending physical 12-step meetings has been a critical part of his journey to recovery.

However, when these meetings stopped due to the pandemic, he found himself isolated and vulnerable.

He said a voice in his head came flooding in,  ‘Yo, this is crazy. The world has stopped. You can get high.” 

Macklemore shared,  “I stopped doing the things that prevented me from getting high, and I listened to that voice.” 

On the Kelly Clarkson show, he shared more of the background story and what led to his relapse “It was an intense time. The life that I knew, just like all of our lives, was stripped away. I’m used to a certain schedule of touring, of being gone, of being home, of recovery, and being able to go to a physical 12-step meeting,” he said.

“That stopped during COVID. Eventually, I’m on Instagram while being on Zoom and I’m just not really paying attention to the meetings. Eventually — and this is what happens when I don’t prioritize my recovery — if I don’t put that first, then I will lose everything that I’m putting in front of it. That’s what happens.” 

“That stopped during COVID. Eventually, I’m on Instagram while being on Zoom and I’m just not really paying attention to the meetings. Eventually — and this is what happens when I don’t prioritize my recovery — if I don’t put that first, then I will lose everything that I’m putting in front of it. That’s what happens.”

Dealing With the Relapse 

Macklemore went on to say that a few weeks after he had relapsed, it was an intense and unbearable experience.

Even today, he struggles with trusting himself. But he has realized that any pursuits or priorities he puts in front of his recovery will be what he loses in the end. He seems to know now more than ever that recovery has to come first.

Macklemore understands the process of recovery isn’t a straightforward or predictable journey.

He added that addiction is the only disease that deceives you into thinking you are not afflicted with any disease. 

"I'm still working on trust issues with myself and within my close circle of friends, but it definitely was a reminder that whatever I put in front of my recovery will be the first thing that I lose."

Macklemore Attends AA

Alcoholics Anonymous has been his way of participating in recovery. Recently, Macklemore shared that his daughter Sloane, has been to AA meetings with him. 

In a recent interview, he shared, “Sloane’s been to meetings with me. She asks me questions like, ‘Daddy, how’re your sober meetings going?’ We talk about it and I don’t want to hide that because it’s not something that I need to feel guilt or shame or secrecy around. The whole intention is to put it out into the open. I’m not a finished product. This is what I’m working on. These are my struggles, these are things that we might have in our family that we might have to keep an eye on — but just be honest.”

“Sloane’s been to meetings with me. She asks me questions like, ‘Daddy, how’re your sober meetings going?’ We talk about it and I don’t want to hide that because it’s not something that I need to feel guilt or shame or secrecy around. The whole intention is to put it out into the open. I’m not a finished product. This is what I’m working on. These are my struggles, these are things that we might have in our family that we might have to keep an eye on — but just be honest.”

Relapse and Creating the Album “BEN”

Macklemore discussed how his recent relapse impacted the creation of his studio album, “BEN,” released a few days ago on March 1, 2023.

Even still, he shared that his relapse contributed to some of the darker, more vulnerable experiences shared on this album.

In the recent interview on the Kelly Clarkson show, he shared, “I think that pain is a catalyst for great art. I don’t want to inflict pain on myself anymore to make art. It’s not like I need to self-sabotage in order to create, but I think that it created some darker, more honest and vulnerable moments on the album,” he shared. “Again, a relapse is not any sort of part of the process, but it does create that vulnerability.”

“I think that pain is a catalyst for great art. I don’t want to inflict pain on myself anymore to make art. It’s not like I need to self-sabotage in order to create, but I think that it created some darker, more honest and vulnerable moments on the album,”

The Lesson to Learn From Macklemore’s Relapse 

It’s widely known by addiction treatment experts that addiction thrives in isolation. One of the most important parts of recovery is community and a sense of belonging. 

Macklemore is one of the many who relied on in person 12-Step meetings to keep his recovery going and to stay connected to those who hold him accountable. 

It’s no wonder that after losing this crucial part of his recovery he became vulnerable and relapsed. 

While COVID-19 has been deadly to millions of Americans, so isolation presents a clear and real threat to those in addiction recovery.

Sources

[1] Video: The Jimmy Fallon Show 

[2] Video: The Kelly Clarkson Show

Published: 3/6/2023

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Author & Reviewers

susana spiegel recovery writer and SEO expert
RECOVERY WRITER & ADVOCATE

Susana is a recovery writer and advocate with over 8 years in addiction recovery. She is passionate about sharing accurate and helpful information about mental health, addiction, and recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University and has over 7 years of working in the addiction field. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director
CLINICAL DIRECTOR & REVIEWER

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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