Managing Drug Addiction in the U.S.

Managing drug addiction in the U.S. is a difficult task.

The political discussions of this week have turned to managing drug addiction in the U.S. at the call of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since drug addiction is currently considered an epidemic, many candidates to the presidential seat have often discussed the subject, either by referring to themselves or to their loved ones. However, very few have actually proposed solutions.

As time passed over the last decades, so has our view on drugs. The discussions are no longer accusatory and intolerant, but more emphatic. In this direction, presidential candidates have talked about drug management on a local and a state scale, but very few actually thought about the role of federal government. The federal government is the one that regulates prescription drugs.

This being said, only two of the eleven candidates have dedicated a section of their campaigns to drug addiction: Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State. The two have one aspect in common: they have family members who have previously fought drug addiction.

Some of the most widespread drugs are opioids, fact that was pointed out even by a Super Bowl commercial. The advertisement promoted medicine for treating constipation induced by opioids. This type of pricey advertisement would make no sense if there were not many people who would need the product, since the Super Bowl has millions of viewers.

In general, candidates have avoided discussing about overprescribing. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Sen., was the only one to talk about it last week on CNN. Sanders pointed out the fact that doctors are giving away too many opioids without thinking about the addiction they cause.

Other candidates focused on the treatment of addiction but made no mention of preventing it. Ted Cruz, Texas Sen. believes the border with Mexico must be secured in order to stop the traffic of illegal drugs that comes from the Latin country.

Unfortunately this will not solve the problem, since a survey from 2013 has proven that 80% of those who use heroin have started taking opioids with medical prescription. The main problem is internal, as it is not coming from the drug cartels.

The speeches of presidential candidates have immensely changed since the 1980, when they were strongly affirming that the United States needs more prosecutors, jails, courts and prisons to deal with drug addicts. Some believe that this is happening because the middle class is currently affected by the epidemic and not only the poor communities as it was in the past.

Managing drug addiction in the U.S. is surely not an easy task, but it should be discussed more widely and more often.

Image Source: Genetic Literacy Project