New Hampshire may be making the news because of the recent primaries, but for residents of the state, there’s a pressing story that is becoming a political and public issue: the drug epidemic.
According to government reports
, within the past 10 years, the number of individuals admitted to treatment programs funded by the state rose 90% for heroin and 500% for prescription opiate abuse. State officials have noted that New Hampshire has high per capita addiction rates compared to other areas in the nation.
Our Nation’s Opiate Issues
Opioids are used in many prescription drugs, which are commonly abused across the country. According to the CDC, presription painkiller addicts are 40 times more likely to also be addicted to heroin. And as attempts to prevent prescription drug abuse increased, heroin demand actually increased, as people found it cheaper and easier to obtain the street drug. This is precisely what public health officials said happened in New Hampshire.
Candidates on the Heroin Epidemic
Candidates from both sides of the aisle have commented on the opiate crisis in New Hampshire, with a few of them even meeting with New Hampshire public officials on the matter.
Republican nominee John Kasich has said that helping curb drug addiction is one of his priorities. Democrat Hillary Clinton has reached out to addiction treatment leaders. Republican Jeb Bush has fielded town hall questions on the epidemic, and his opponent Marco Rubio has stated that prescription drug abuse is linked to heroin dependence. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told a New Hampshire radio station that heroin abuse is affecting rural areas, not just urban regions, indicating more resources should be spent on preventing the spread of abuse.
Still, many candidates have failed to tate a specific stance on dealing with drug abuse, likely because methods of preventing abuse can be divisive. Publically funding the fight against drug abuse by increasing access to overdose-reversing methadone, for example, raises concerns over spending, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicaid expansion. Some politicians are trying to aid in the fight by supporting legislation that would allow the federal government to award grants that would combat heroin and opioid abuse; so far, the only presidential candidate that has signed on is Lindsey Graham.