Clinton mounts fight against ‘quiet epidemic’ of drug abuse

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/hillary-clinton-2016-fight-against-drug-abuse-epidemic-213284

<p>Growing concerns about substance abuse and mental health ravaging rural communities were <b>some</b> of the first surprises of Hillary Clinton’s return to national politics last April. As she took her first tentative steps on the trail, participating in controlled roundtable discussions in New Hampshire and Iowa, Clinton said she was<b> taken aback by </b>how widespread the problem had become. She began raising the issue if no one else did, and vowed that treating mental health issues “will be a big part of my campaign.”</p><p>On Wednesday, her campaign rolled out the details.</p><p>Clinton is proposing a ten-year, $10 billion initiative to tackle the problem, including: preventing drug use among teenagers; ensuring comprehensive treatment for all addicts; ensuring that first responders carry naloxone to prevent fatal overdoses; training for healthcare providers about substance abuse disorders; and pushing treatment over incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders.</p><p>The issue stands apart from other policy platforms Clinton has rolled out, such as her college affordability plan, immigration platform or Wall Street policy, in that aside from increasing government spending it is not overtly political in a Democratic primary. Even Republican candidate Chris Christie on Wednesday said he wanted to fight drug addiction. But Clinton wrote emotionally about the problem in an op-ed piece published Tuesday night.<br /></p><br><p><br />“It’s time we recognize as a nation that for too long, we have had a quiet epidemic on our hands,” Clinton wrote in the Union Leader, a local New Hampshire paper, announcing her plan. “Plain and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing — and we must treat it as such.”<br />She writes that “52 million Americans over 12 have misused prescription drugs at some point, including one in four teenagers. In 2013, more Americans died from overdoses than car crashes.”</p><p>Of the $10 billion Clinton wants to spend to combat the problem, $7.5 billion would be used to support federal-state partnerships. Under the arrangement, states would receive $4 of federal support for ever $1 they commit to fighting substance abuse.</p><p>The other $2.5 billion would go to increasing the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant by 15 percent over ten years. That would help expand in- and out-patient care options, the campaign said.</p><p>The initiative was also billed as economic development — on a conference call Wednesday afternoon, New Hampshire substance abuse experts and lawmakers stressed that the state loses $1.8 billion a year to untreated substance abuse disorders and called it “an economic issue that is threatening the state and country.”</p><p>On Wednesday, campaign chairman John Podesta visited New Hampshire to roll out the new policy proposals. Online, the campaign shared testimonials from voters.</p><br><p>An African American woman from Dubuque, Iowa, shared her story on Clinton’s Instagram page: “My older sister has been battling with drugs and alcohol use for more than 20 years…She didn’t get to raise any of her children. My mother helped raise three of her kids, and the others were in foster homes….she’s still battling it.”</p><p>Clinton herself was not on the trail Wednesday when the campaign announced it’s new initiative — she is still finishing up her vacation in the Hamptons this week.</p><br>

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