Years ago, politicians would not dare discussing addiction; Admitting that politicians relatives suffered from addiction would have been frowned upon.  Now in 2016 everybody from Donald Trump to Jeb Bush is addressing Addiction with personal tales of drug-addicted family members. 

Addiction in AmericaThe attention addiction has received has suddenly risen to the top of the list with almost all of the presidential candidates recalling and sharing their experiences. This is not about parties now because every candidate in both parties has had to speak about addiction one way or the other. What Americans are saying, however is, why is this happening now? Years ago, politicians would not even spend a minute talking about addiction let alone having them talk about how it has affected their relatives. It would have been frowned upon. All of a sudden in 2016, the song is now about it.

It first started with Jeb Bush who spoke about how his daughter recovered from addiction. Her name is Carly Fiorina and he recalled having to beg a judge not to send her daughter back to jail. Then Carly Fiorina had to recount her own struggles with families that had gone through addiction. Then it was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who also spoke about how a close friend had an overdose of drugs and died. All these stories, as they come out, tend to strike chords that are powerful on drug abuse which had caused policy reviews and influx of proposals on how to combat the subtle but deadly epidemic.

Now that addiction has received the attention of the lawmakers and the powerful, what is going to be done about it? Stories will be fine but that’s not going to change anything. As a matter of fact, there will be more stories to tell if nothing concrete is done. Patrick Kennedy, a former US representative blurted out to the politicians “you are running to be storyteller-in-chief”. That is to say, it’s not about the stories, it’s about how we change the way addiction is treated in the health care system.

Governor Christie was firm enough to let everyone realize that addiction is a disease and should be seen as such. It is an epidemic and it is spreading. Advocates are of the opinion that more money needs to be put into combating addiction and this should also include monies for treatment and research on what best can be done to reduce the rate at which people get exposed to addiction.

The Democrats don’t really seem to have plans or maybe their plans are too weak. Last year December, in a debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, Senator Sanders iterated that addiction should be treated as a disease and not a criminal activity. But despite the outcry, he was not able to tell how he is going to combat the disease of addiction. So, talk is cheap.

Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton is the only one who seem to have a plan that comes with a price. She was at New Hampshire Union Leader in September and proposed a $10 billion plan to combat addiction. Even though she is the only one who seems to have a plan, some advocates don’t seem to take her 5-point agenda as very serious. Governor Christie is known for her infrequent visits to New Hampshire recovery centers when she was campaigning. One of her manifestos if she becomes president is that she will create drug courts in all 93 federal court districts. These courts will grant treatment instead of imprisonment to non-violent offenders. She said something that made a lot of sense. She said the money that would be saved by keeping more people out of prison can be diverted into researching into better addiction treatment plans. Her statement was however not without criticism as some of her critics say Christie has not been effective so far in treating addiction since she was a governor. Reports said since she took over office in 2010, there has been less investment in treatments in the state of New Jersey. Further, the reports said about three-quarters of drug addiction who needed help never got treatment in 2013 because the treatment centers were either full or shut down.

All these tends to point to one thing, these politicians don’t really know exactly what is to be done to really combat addiction. Yes, they now agree that it’s a problem that needs to be tackled but how they are going to tackle it is the issue. As for any result to come out of this, I believe they will have to work together. The past is past; the future has to be faced. It is not time to be witch-hunting one another. If a candidate has a good idea, let’s use it rather than tarnish their image like some are doing to Christie. Whether its Hilary’s plan, lets follow it and if it’s Christie’s, as long as it yields the required results. The most important thing is, addiction has destroyed too many lives in the US, and it’s time to put a stop to it.