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New Hampshire Opioid Epidemic: I’m In Recovery and I Vote

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New HampshireThere are an estimated 23 million Americans in recovery from drugs and/or alcohol. With that many people in long-term recovery, it’s imperative for the 2016 presidential candidates to be able to speak our language if they want our votes.

Opioid Epidemic Plagues New Hampshire

According to a new CNN video, “Inside New Hampshire Opioid Epidemic”, the state of NH expects the number of drug overdose deaths to reach 400 this year. Half of the state’s residents say they know someone who has abused heroin; one quarter feel that heroin abuse is a bigger issue than jobs, the economy or ISIS. The problem is wide-spread and growing across the state, and yet New Hampshire ranks second to last in substance abuse treatment.

NH is certainly struggling with the heroin epidemic, but so is the entire nation. It is time that we stop sweeping the drug issue under the rug and we start taking real action into treating the disease of addiction.

Americans In Recovery

In addition to those 23 million Americans in recovery, are their families. That means an estimated 50 million family members have had to watch the devastation that drug addiction and alcoholism causes, without help. The nation is slowly beginning to recognize that “addicts” aren’t just those “junkies” on the street. Addiction is a plague, affecting anyone from Wall Street to street corners, and nobody is safe until we address the problem.

One candidate, Chris Christie, has begun to share his experience with addiction, also stating that he believes the disease of addiction should be treated as such, and not a “moral failing.” In a recent video shared by the Huffington Post, which has been viewed more than 8 million times, Christie opens up emotionally about his struggle with his affluent friend’s untimely death after he became addicted to painkillers following back surgery.

Several other 2016 hopefuls are also beginning to share more openly about their experience with addiction, and how it has touched their personal lives. Jeb Bush’s daughter has struggled on and off with addiction; Carly Fiorina lost a step-daughter to alcohol and drugs.

Addiction as a disease isn’t a theory anymore; it’s a deadly fact and we need to do something about it. Jailing people for having an addiction isn’t going to solve the problem, but treating addiction like an illness will. Thankfully, most of the 2016 presidential hopefuls recognize this fact and are beginning to address it on the national stage.

Watch the video now: 2016 Presidential Candidates #BreakTheStigma Of Drug Addiction

However, not every 2016 candidate shares these same views. Dr. Ben Carson believes that “addiction occurs in people who are vulnerable, who are lacking something in their lives,” and his plan to fix addition is to help America return to its “values and principles” if he were to be elected president in the coming year. Unfortunately, Carson fails to see the big picture – you can’t fix addiction with just being a good person. Addicts and alcoholics are not bad people trying to get good; they are sick people that need to get well. And without treatment, most are likely to continue to fail.

Treating Addiction Like A Disease

Proper treatment for addicts consists of a medical detox, followed by inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Hillary Clinton, among other candidates, support treatment in lieu of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. She expressed how surprised she was to learn how bad the drug epidemic issue has become in New Hampshire, pushing her to support the accessibility of treatment programs.

It’s about time that the presidential candidates take our nation’s drug epidemic seriously. It’s about time our voices in recovery and our families’ voices are heard. The more we continue to talk about it, the less power the stigma of addiction has, and the more lives can be saved. The next several months will be crucial as the 2016 presidential candidates talk to the nation about the action they believe is important to take to help our nation’s people suffering with a substance abuse disorder.

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