2016 Presidential Candidates and Their Views on Addiction and Recovery

2016 Presidential Candidates and Their Views on Addiction and Recovery

The 2016 United States Presidential campaign is up and running at a fever pitch. The once large pool of candidates has been whittled down to Hillary Clinton for the Democrat Party, and Donald Trump for the Republican Party. With the increasing opioid epidemic claiming more and more lives, addiction and recovery have become a popular topic of discussion between the candidates. Here are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s views on addiction and recovery.

Addiction and Recovery

The candidate America chooses this November will greatly affect the next four years of drug policy in our country. Will the president impose stricter penalties on drug-related crimes? Or will they be more lenient, like making marijuana legal in all 50 states? This is why it’s important to stay current on candidates and pick the one that best fits your views.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton highlights drug abuse prevention and drug treatment as a central pillar of her campaign. “Plain and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing—and we must treat it as such,” Clinton wrote in a recent op-ed piece. Her 2015 “Initiative to Combat America’s Deadly Epidemic of Drug and Alcohol Addiction” policy plan will require $10 billion to address the opiate addiction epidemic that is currently in the US.  As a result, her initiative requires a substantial time allotment, but with the right resources and leadership, it’s possible.

Here are five goals within her policy plan:

  1. Treatment and Recovery.  Part of Clinton’s policy will focus on ensuring that everyone who needs treatment receives it, and has the opportunity for recovery. Her policy acknowledges that addiction is a disease requiring ongoing care for a successful recovery. Treatment and recovery will be improved by expanding outpatient and inpatient services, enforcing mental health and addiction parity laws, making peer recovery coaches mobile, and increasing the efficiency of trained providers.
  2. Prevention is a major factor, and better drug prevention will be implemented by empowering communities via youth drug abstinence programs. Education plays an important factor in drug addiction and our currently education system does not effectively teach students and parents about the dangers of drug addiction. Clinton’s policy will create school-based programs that will educate students with curriculum that is appropriate for their age.
  3. First responders will have Naloxone on the job. Naloxone is a drug that can prevent opioid overdoses from becoming fatal. Having Naloxone in a first responders’ toolkit could help stop a lot of fatalities from opioid overdoses.
  4. Prescribers will have to consult a drug-monitoring program before writing prescriptions for controlled medications like painkillers. Additionally, this helps decrease the number of people addicted to prescription medications who are doctor-shopping. Health professionals stay informed on alternative pain relief methods, for those who apply.
  5. Criminal justice reform will prioritize rehabilitation and treatment over incarceration for nonviolent and low-level drug-related offenses. This aspect of the policy addresses the high incarceration rate in America today. Finally, Clinton wants to reform the criminal justice system and find alternative ways for dealing with low-level crime, instead of incarceration.

Donald Trump

In the recent years, Trump’s stance on the drug policy has drastically changed. Although he does not go into as much description about addiction and recovery policy as Clinton, Trump has given his opinions on the issue in the past:


In 1990, America was losing the infamous ‘war on drugs” badly and at that time, Trump expressed his  belief that legalizing those drugs would win the war. Additionally, Trump wanted to legalize all narcotics in the U.S and keep the profits to support drug abuse prevention programs. Drug money would be taken from drug czars and placed into America’s hands.


In his recent 2016 campaign, Trump has said very little about drug treatment and rehabilitation.

In 2015, Trump was against legalizing recreational marijuana, but as of now, he states, “If they vote for it, they vote for it. But they’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado — some big, big problems.” As of now, he is 100% behind legalizing medical marijuana. However, he believes it should be regulated on a state-by-state basis.

Donald Trump says he wants to try to help addicts. Trump stated, “We are gonna try and help the young people and the old people and the middle-aged people and everybody that got addicted.” Trump’s primary objective is to stop drugs from entering the United States through Mexico. He plans on stopping the flow of drugs by building a wall along the border. Finally, he suggests this wall will stop drugs from entering the United States, and decrease the number of addicts.

In summary

2014 had the highest amount of deaths from drug overdoses. Additionally, half of these deaths were from an opioid, like heroin. All the candidates agree that there is an opioid epidemic, but their plans to change it vary.

Update: Read More in our 2018 Recovery Voting Guide

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