Published On: Fri, Sep 9th, 2016

Which Politicians are Tackling America’s Prescription Drug Problem?

Is America hooked on pharmaceuticals? The Senate seems to think so, having passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to increase the availability of the drug Naloxone, which treats opioid overdoses. Painkilling opioids are abused at alarming rates, and are killing nearly forty Americans per day. With the 2016 election season well underway, it’s important that our soon-to-be elected government officials take a stance on prescription drug abuse. The following looks at some of the candidates and their plan to handle the epidemic.  

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)

It’s only fair that this list start with Senator Whitehouse, as he sponsored the bill CARA. The bill sets aside grant money to educate state and local governments on opioid addiction. CARA reports that opioid overdoses surpassed car accidents in injury-related deaths in 2014. America’s current prescription drug problem is worse than it’s ever been, with Crestview Recovery reporting that more than 23 million Americans suffer from prescription drug addiction.

photo Emuishere Pelicula via Flickr

photo Emuishere Pelicula via Flickr

“We need to ensure people struggling with addiction can get the best possible services,” Whitehouse announced during the soft opening of CODAC Behavioral Healthcare’s newest facility. The best thing about CARA is that it provides incentives for emergency responders to carry Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of heroin and opioid overdose. In regards to his reasons for co-authoring the bill, Whitehouse had this to say, “We need to ensure people struggling with addiction can get the best possible services…law enforcement, first responders, and family members are on the front lines of this public health crisis.”  

Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

Although Whitehouse introduced CARA, it was Senator Portman who led the charge to get the bill passed in the Republican-dominated Senate. Portman also worked to convince the House to pass the comprehensive plan. Portman pleaded with the House to pass the bill, stating “This survey is just the latest in a long line of evidence that this out-of-control epidemic is affecting every one of us – no matter our background, no matter where we live…”

Portman went on to say, “I agree that the federal government must do more and be a better partner with state and local officials who are on the front lines every day.” CARA includes provisions for expanded education and bolstered programs to monitor prescribing doctors and their patients. The bill received a fair amount of criticism from Democrats because it lacks new funding, but Republicans insist the funding will come from existing sources.

Secretary Hillary Clinton (67th US Secretary of State)

“We’re not just now discovering this problem,” Secretary Clinton said of America’s current addiction epidemic. “But, we should be saying enough is enough. It’s time we recognize as a nation that for too long, we have had a quiet epidemic on our hands. Plan and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing – and we must treat it as such.”

Clinton’s hopes training, prevention, and treatment will help end addiction and substance abuse. Should she be elected to the highest office (the US Presidency), she plans to empower communities to prevent and treat their addicted citizens. Moreover, Clinton has a plan to reform the criminal justice system and trigger-happy prescribers. Yes, doctors will be held accountable for overprescribing opioids and will have to finish a program before they’re allowed to prescribe addictive pain killers.

Politicians should have something to say on the current epidemic; if they don’t, they maybe aren’t worth electing or reelecting. Considering this is a crisis everywhere, it’s important that both small and big government be focused on the issue. There’s no easy solutions, but with a bipartisan effort, America can get unhooked.  

Author: Jimmy Simond

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