Is opioid addiction a big enough issue for voters?

heroin-use

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Several dozen people gathered in the auditorium at Central Dauphin Middle School on Wednesday evening for a program about heroin addiction.

“Its educating the parents about what heroin is, how it affects people and what addiction looks like,” explained organizer Carmie Singer.

Singer, a Central Dauphin employee, is also the mother of a recovering heroin addict.

“We found out when he was 22 years old,” she says. “He’s 27 now and he’s been clean and sober for five years.”

For millions of American families, heroin and opioid addiction has become a tragic and often deadly reality. Statistically, nearly 1,000 people die each day from opioid overdoses across the United States. Countless other deaths are thwarted by the quick use of the opioid reversing drug naloxone. Addicts come from both white and blue collar backgrounds, and often begin abusing prescription painkillers before turning to street heroin.

As the problem surpasses crisis level in many communities, the issue has grabbed the attention of both presidential candidates.

“A wall will not only keep out dangerous cartels and criminals, but it will also keep out the drugs and heroin that is poisoning our youth,” said Donald Trump, speaking to a crowd of supporters in New Hampshire on October 15th. “When I won the primary, I promised the people of New Hampshire that I would stop drugs from pouring into your community, remember, I said it strongly. I’m gonna do it.”

Last Friday, Trump followed up on those comments by releasing a detailed, four point plan on how he would address drug abuse problems if elected President. The plan focuses on stopping the flow of drugs into the country, closing shipping loopholes, fixing misguided rules and regulations, and getting help to people struggling with addiction. There is no specific price tag attached to the Trump plan. The entire plan can be seen at www.donaldjtrump.com.

Hillary Clinton has been speaking about opioids since the primary election season, when she released a five point plan for combating addiction at www.hillaryclinton.com. The Clinton plan outlines approaches for prevention, treatment and recovery, first responders, prescribers, and criminal justice reform. The plan would cost an estimated $10 billion.

But as heroin addiction emerges as one of the most important American social issues, do the plans really matter to voters?

“To be honest with you, I don’t really pay a lot of attention to the political side of it,” said Singer.

As the problem continues to grow and political candidates continue to evolve their positions, Singer says the importance to voters could change. As someone who’s been personally touched by the ugliness of opioid addiction, she admits a candidate with a better plan for dealing with the problem could sway her vote.

“Oh, absolutely,” she adds. “This is affecting so many families. Just about everyone knows someone who has lost a child to an overdose.”

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