President Barack Obama joined forces with the rap artist Macklemore to improve efforts to reach out to those addicted to opioids and those who overdose on the drug often found in prescription painkillers.
Obama and the rap artist appeared on a video in the White House weekly address to talk about a problem that has been rapidly growing worse in recent years. Macklemore noted that he abused the drugs and battled addiction.
The president said his administration is pushing for improved treatment, and he noted that Congress has moved ahead on several measures to address opioids. The House this week passed measures setting up federal grants and taking other steps to battle the drug epidemic. Democrats complained the package is not adequately funded and anti-drug advocates called it a needed but modest first step.
The House is preparing to begin negotiations with the Senate, which approved its own version in March.
"This week, the House passed several bills about opioids, but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won't get Americans the help they need," Obama said. "Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000. A lot of the time, they're from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor."
Macklemore backed Obama's pitch with a personal plea.
"I know recovery isn't easy or quick, but along with the 12-step program, treatment has saved my life," Macklemore said. "Recovery works -- and we need our leaders in Washington to fund it and people to know how to find it."