Democrats address need to fight growing addiction epidemic

Campaign for Cures

The Campaign for Cures Election 2016 blog features news, analysis, commentary and data about the presidential candidates and congressional races in key states on issues relevant to medical progress. Janice Lloyd, former USA Today senior editor and health reporter, manages The Campaign for Cures blog. You can reach Janice at   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit

Democrats address need to fight growing addiction epidemic

Janice Lloyd

During the opening day of Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, one of the first speakers addresses the growing epidemic of opioid abuse and a nationwide need for better treatment.

Pam Livengood of Keene, N.H., will talk about how her family has been hit hard by substance abuse. She is the guardian for her grandson because her daughter struggles with addiction.

Livengood talked to Hillary Clinton during a campaign stop in 2015 in New Hampshire. After telling Clinton there were very limited resources in her area for helping people with addiction, she asked Clinton if she had any ideas.

Clinton promised to make the issue a big topic of her campaign.  Since meeting Livengood and other families across the country who told her about similar problems, Clinton has announced a $10 billion plan to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

Prescription painkiller overdoses more than quadrupled in the U.S. from 1999 to 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while heroin doses more than doubled. With an average of 110 deaths from drug overdoses (about 40,000 a year), deaths from drug abuse outnumber those caused by car accidents. Small towns and rural areas across the country have been particularly hard-hit.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance plans make substance abuse and mental health treatment essential benefits, but treatment is often hard to come by and barriers to accessing it remain. A majority of Americans (79%) agree that insurers should be required to provide mental health and substance abuse benefits on par with the coverage they offer for other medical care, according to a survey commissioned by Research!America.

Of the 23.1 million Americans who needed treatment for drugs or alcohol in 2012, only 2.5 million people received aid at a specialty facility, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Drug abuse has been in the political spotlight this year. Before the U.S. Senate convened in July, it passed a bill to combat the growing epidemic.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) played lead roles in the debate. In New Hampshire, more than a person a day dies of a heroin or opioid overdose and in Ohio, it’s nearly one death every three hours, according to the CDC. Ohioans say drug/substance abuse is one of the most important health issues facing people in Ohio today, according to a Research!America survey.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said at a New Hampshire rally last fall that he would battle the addiction crisis on two fronts. “First, we have to support locally based and locally run clinics, and we gotta close up the border. That's where the drugs are coming in.”

He added, “In the meantime, people are getting hooked, and we're going to take care of those people. Many of them got hooked unknowingly.”

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Adds node titles to internal links found in content (as HTML "title" attribute).
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

Source: A Research!America and poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.