With an election year looming and the New Hampshire primary playing an early and pivotal role, 2016 presidential candidates have begun to take notice. They are hard-pressed to visit the critical battleground state without encountering at least one drug-related question, reports The Guardian. As Hillary Clinton said before rolling out her proposal to tackle substance abuse, the issue was never intended to be a focal point of her campaign. But she encountered the topic repeatedly in conversations with voters, be it related to heroin in New Hampshire or meth and prescription drug use in Iowa. “I did not expect that I would hear about drug abuse and substance abuse and other such challenges everywhere I went,” she Clinton said.
The presidential contenders may as well skip the New Hampshire primary if they aren't prepared to address the state's substance abuse epidemic. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey governor Chris Christie heard from staffers and patients at a treatment facility and said later that they wanted to listen to help inform their solutions. Clinton has taken a similar approach, using both private sit-downs and public meetings with substance abuse advocates to map out a way forward. Heroin-related overdose deaths increased 286 percent in the U.S. over the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. In 2013, more than 37,000 Americans died of a drug overdose, most in relation to heroin or prescription painkillers. Dependency has also skyrocketed, with no demographic left untouched, due in large part to access to opioid painkillers.