As the nation moves closer to the national primaries, candidates have begun campaigning in the early primary states. While the speeches given and the questions fielded will most likely resemble that of past elections, the following months may have candidates answering questions about their plans to address drug addiction – especially prescription opioids and heroin addiction. Today, it is fair to say that with the exception of alcohol abuse, no other type of drug is impacting Americans as insidiously as opioids. In the state of New Hampshire, the first state to vote in the primaries, citizens are wondering how the candidates will respond to the opioid epidemic crippling their state?
Tiny State – Big Problem
While New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in the Union, it has seen a surge in prescription drug and heroin abuse in recent years, a problem that has led to a dramatic rise overdose deaths. In fact, reports from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services have shown that over the last decade the number of people seeking treatment for opioid abuse has skyrocketed. The reports show a 90 percent rise in people seeking treatment for heroin and 500 percent for prescription opiate abuse in the last ten years, The Daily Beast reports.
“We have in New Hampshire some of the highest per capita rates of addiction in the United States,” said Tym Rourke, chairman of the New Hampshire governor’s commission on drug abuse. “So we are very, very much at ground zero for addiction… Right now, we are having an overdose death every day.”
Candidates, Be Prepared!
Certainly, New Hampshire is not alone in the struggle to combat the prescription opioid and heroin scourge plaguing America, but its size and the state’s historic role in deciding who will win the primary puts it in a unique situation to open the dialogue. The town of Manchester, with just over 110,000 residents has seen 50 heroin overdoses since the beginning of the year, according to the article.
Ted Gatsas, the mayor of Manchester, is using this opportunity to discuss the problem that his state is facing, and the problem the nation faces. Gastas has already spoken with several presidential candidates about heroin addiction.
“When they come into my office, that’s what I talk to them about,” Gatsas said. “It’s something that the entire country should be drawing attention to, because people are dying.”
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