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Drug Addiction Gets New Treatment On Campaign Trail

Drug deaths are on the rise in the US, especially for white Americans. And it’s changing the conversation about addiction and treatment on the campaign trail and beyond.

Republican Presidential candidates Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL) and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina campaign at recent events. All three have used personal stories of drug addiction among family members or friends as part of their campaigning efforts. (Associated Press)

Republican Presidential candidates Gov. Chris Christie (NJ), former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL) and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina campaign at recent events. All three have used personal stories of drug addiction among family members or friends as part of their campaigning efforts. (Associated Press)

The nation’s drug problem – especially its deadly opioid epidemic – has gone white and it’s gone not least to New Hampshire, and that is changing the tone of the political conversation around drug abuse. Candidate after candidate – Republicans very much included – now stepping up to share deeply personal stories of addiction in their own inner circle. To say we need to treat drug abuse like a disease. This is new. This hour On Point, the changing tone on drugs, and what it means for American policy.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Emma Roller, contributing writing for the New York Times’ Campaign Stops blog. (@emmaroller)

Dr. Josiah Rich, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. Attending physician at the Miriam Hospital.

Leah Wright Rigueur, professor of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Author of “The Loneliness of the Black Republican.” (@leahrigueur)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Just Saying Yes to the Politics of Drugs — “Nearly 50 years into the ‘war on drugs,’ which both Republican and Democratic leaders have waged in various ways, with various disastrous outcomes, drug overdoses reached a record high in 2014. From 2001 to 2014, the United States had more than a threefold increase in deaths from opioid pain relievers, and a sixfold increase in heroin overdoses, according to the National Institutes of Health. During the same period, overdose deaths from prescription drugs like Valium and Klonopin — sedatives called benzodiazepines — increased by five times.”

MSNBC: Candidates get personal, emotional while discussing drug addiction — “Drug addiction has unexpectedly catapulted to the top of candidates’ stump speeches this year, thanks in part to an epidemic of opiate addiction in New Hampshire that has affected a friend, family member, or acquaintance of nearly one in two Granite Staters, according to a WMUR poll. That survey from October found that voters in this key state picked it as the single most important public policy issue.”

Washington Post: Carly Fiorina: ‘I buried a child to drug addiction.’ How addiction is changing America — ” As many people have become aware, the United States continues to suffer an epidemic of addiction to prescription opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine. As the government has cracked down on the abuse of those drugs, making them more expensive on the street, the past few years have seen a huge rise in addiction to heroin, which is similar but much cheaper and widely available. The United States averages 110 overdose deaths from legal and illegal drugs every day. The heroin death toll has quadrupled in the decade that ended in 2013.”

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