Combatting Drug Addiction: Clinton and Trump on Drug Abuse in the United States

presidential candidates drug use

Substance addiction is a national epidemic.  Today, over 23 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder, yet only 1 in 10 receive proper treatment.  The issue remains clear, but when will we, as a country, address it?

Election Day is November 8th, 2016.  As we get down to the wire, many of us are scrambling to conduct any final research on the Democratic and Republican frontrunners.  Many of us are still educating ourselves on their policies, their priorities, and the effects of their potential presidencies. 

No matter who you plan to vote for this year, we ask you not to forget how drug addiction, drug abuse, and drug treatment come into play.  And before you vote, we ask you to take some time to learn what each of these presidential candidates are saying about drug abuse.  How does Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump plan to combat the drug epidemic in America?  How do their viewpoints align with your own?

To help inform your vote, here are Clinton and Trump perspectives on drug use in the United States.

Clinton on Drug Abuse and Addiction 

Hillary Clinton, since the beginnings of her presidential campaigns, has made drug abuse and addiction a major focus.  It is a serious issue affecting America, she states, and “we cannot arrest and incarcerate our way out of it.”  We need a new approach, she believes.  For this reason, Clinton has put forth a $10 billion initiative to prevent drug abuse, to treat substance use disorders, and to support people in recovery throughout America.

In her prevention efforts, Clinton plans to work with state and local governments to focus on drug education.  She believes that increasing awareness about the disease of addiction, and teaching youth, families, and communities about the importance of early intervention, will be the key to prevention efforts.  She plans to dedicate a certain budget to age-appropriate, school-based prevention programs as a part of this initiative.

  • Clinton on the Opioid Epidemic:

Recently, Clinton announced new initiatives to work with pharmaceutical providers to ensure that opioid painkillers are being administered appropriately.  If she becomes president, she states that licensed prescribers will be required to have a minimum amount of training and monitoring before they can write any prescription for controlled medications.  With regulation of prescriptions, she aims to help identify patients who may be at risk of, or who are already victims of, prescription drug addiction.

  • Clinton on Marijuana Legalization:

On Election Day, nine states will be voting for or against marijuana legalization.  However, Clinton has not taken an official stance on the topic.  She claims that she supports those states that are moving towards legalization – both medical and recreational – and only asks that more research be done around the subject.  She states that we’ll have to learn what works and does not work before taking action.

  • Clinton on Professional Drug Treatment:

A large part of Clinton’s plan against drug addiction is to expand inpatient and outpatient services for those in recovery.  This will entail increasing the number of trained treatment providers, and ensuring that health insurance is not a barrier for those needing treatment (Because, as we know, a lack of healthcare insurance deters over 37 percent of addicted individuals from pursuing drug treatment).

Clinton recognizes that addiction is a chronic disease and cannot be overcome with one-off interventions.  Her briefing states the importance of long-term drug treatment,

“Recovery is only possible through effective and ongoing care, not neglect or stigmatization or episodic treatment.”

Trump on Drug Use and Addiction 

Donald Trump, the Republican party candidate for the 2016 presidential election, is no stranger to substance addiction.  In fact, he knows the personal impact of addiction in the family firsthand – he knows that addiction can happen to anyone, anywhere, regardless of their background or wealth.  Because his brother, Fred Trump, was a direct victim of alcoholism.  Fred had struggled with the disease for many years before his passing at age 43.  His death, undoubtedly, took a major toll on the presidential candidate, who now refuses to touch any addictive substance – whether drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or coffee.

Despite such an intimate understanding of addiction, Trump’s plans to combat drug abuse and addiction in the United States remain somewhat vague.  One belief he upholds, however, is the need for stronger and tighter borders.  Stronger borders, Trump states, will decrease drug availability in the country.  They will reduce the number of dangerous drugs that are being illegally smuggled into the U.S and protect our youth and adults alike from falling into the addiction cycle.

  • Trump on the Opioid Epidemic:

In speaking with a New Hampshire high school – a population who has experienced the destruction of heroin abuse firsthand – Trump addressed his desire to combat opiate addiction.  He stated, “We are gonna try and help the young people, and the old people, and the middle age people, and everybody that got addicted.”  He continued, “We are going to help the people that have the problem and try to get them off, but what really is easy is to convince everybody ‘don’t take it.’”

According to ABC News, Trump’s statements indicate a ‘just say no’ approach.  But they also suggest that he is supportive of prevention initiatives for those who have not used drugs and for those who are at risk of relapse.  Whether this requires a wall to be built or programs to put forth, is to be determined.

  • Trump on Marijuana Legalization:

At the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference and again during the first presidential debate of 2016, Donald Trump declared that he was completely opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana, stating that it was a “bad idea" that can cause “big, big problems.”  However, he believes that legalization should be a state-by-state decision.  Trump supports the legalization of medical marijuana and believes studies should continue. 

When asked about the health risks and effects of marijuana use, Trump stated that he sees both the “good” and the bad that comes with the drug’s legalization.  Traditionally, however, the GOP has supported strict drug legislation and penalties for drug abuse, such as jail time.

  • Trump on Addiction Treatment in America:

Trump has said very little on the subject of professional addiction treatment in our country.  However, in an Ohio town hall meeting this past August, he did acknowledge the need:

“It’s very hard to get out of the addiction of heroin. We’re going to work with them, we’re going to spend the money, we’re going to get that habit broken.”

Get talking about drug abuse and addiction.  To learn more about the drug epidemic in America, please reach out to Turnbridge’s young adult drug rehab.  If your loved one is a victim of drug addiction, please do not hesitate to contact us at 877-581-1793 for help.