In response to what has been called a “quiet epidemic” of heroin and prescription painkiller addiction, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed a 10 billion dollar plan to treat addicts and stop the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders.
Narcan Continues to Save Lives
The program, which would be mainly funded by the federal government, would also help get the life saving rescue drug NARCAN into the hands of more emergency responders to improve the odds for overdose victims.
The plan, announced in an op-ed in the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leader newspaper, has come after months of discussion about our nation’s drug addiction. Clinton’s campaign events in New Hampshire, Iowa and elsewhere have all involved talks about it. In fact, the topic comes up every time Clinton engages voters in public, and she has made drug addiction a part of her speech.
In the op-ed, Clinton talked about her discussion with a retired doctor in New Hampshire in April, just after she entered the 2016 race.
“He said his biggest worry was the rising tide of heroin addiction in the state, following a wave of prescription drug abuse,” Clinton wrote. “To be candid, I didn’t expect what came next. In state after state, this issue came up again and again — from so many people, from all walks of life, in small towns and big cities.”
Hilary’s Proposal to Treat Addicts
Clinton’s proposal would widen access to treatment and recovery programs through a new 7.5 billion dollar federal-state spending package. States that meet new federal tests for treatment and other resources would get four dollars from the government for every dollar spent. Part of the cost would be offset, Clinton’s campaign says, by reduced costs in prison and criminal justice systems if fewer low-level drug offenders were behind bars.
The Statistics Cited
Clinton used statistics showing that only 10 percent of the 23 million Americans with addiction were getting treatment, and that in 2013, more Americans died of overdoses than car crashes.
According to the CDC, deaths involving heroin increased from 3,041 in 2008 to 8, 260 in 2013, the latest statistics available. Chances are this number is even more in 2014.
“This is not new. We’re not just now ‘discovering’ this problem, but we should be saying enough is enough. It’s time we recognize as a nation that for too long, we have had a quiet epidemic on our hands.”
Treatment Should Be More Available to Addicts
Time after time people who have addictions have found the treatment facilities are full and that their insurance companies won’t cover the cost. The Affordable Care Act made sure that insurance plans make substance abuse and mental health treatment a part of the essential benefits, but treatment is so hard to find that there are still many barriers to accessing it that remain.
Also Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican presidential contender, released a new television ad casting treatment for drug addiction as a “pro-life” issue.
“For those whose lives we have a chance to save, I want us to try to save those lives,” Christie says in the ad. “Because I believe every one of those lives is a precious gift from God.”
It is about time.