Addiction, which was a major issue leading up to the presidential primary in New Hampshire, is once again a key topic in the election, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Both elected officials and advocacy groups are working to ensure that addiction stays an important issue in the race, the article notes.
Recently, addiction was in the political spotlight when President Obama spoke at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit about steps his administration is taking to combat the opioid epidemic.
“The breadth of the problem is demanding that candidates for president put it on their front burner,” said Republican Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who represents the group that organized the summit, Operation Unite. “We need a national program, a campaign if you will, that comprehensively deals with the problem.”
Last week the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released a poll that found 43 percent of Americans say they have a relative or close friend with a substance use issue, and 62 percent say at least one type of substance use is a serious problem in their community.
Groups that focus on addiction issues are arranging forums in primary and battleground states to push candidates to come out with specific policy recommendations to deal with the opioid epidemic.
The National Council for Behavioral Health, which represents addiction-treatment providers, is asking candidates to support expanded access to treatment programs and passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which authorizes funds for various drug treatment and prevention programs for a wide range of people, including those in jail.
Addiction is a key issue in some Senate and House races. In Ohio, which has been greatly impacted by the opioid epidemic, Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democrat Ted Strickland, the former governor, have talked about the topic. In Pennsylvania, Republican Senator Pat Toomey and his potential Democratic opponent, Joe Sestak, have also spoken about addiction.