Hillary Clinton Announces $10 Billion Plan to Address Opiate Epidemic

By Zachary Siegel 09/03/15

Backing scientific and medical approaches to treating addiction, Clinton laid out an ambitious new policy.

Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is proposing a $10 billion policy plan that aims to combat the opiate epidemic sweeping across America. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) will play a major role in her efforts.

“Plain and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing—and we must treat it as such,” Clinton wrote in a recent op-ed describing her new plan.

Treating addiction as a disease means the use of medication, such as prescribing naltrexone for cravings, and using opioid medications such as Suboxone and methadone when necessary. A pharmacological intervention coupled with counseling and other social support networks are argued by many to be the most effective way known to date to beat an opioid addiction.

Clinton laid out an ambitious plan centered around five main goals. First, she aims to empower communities to prevent drug use among young adults; she wants to ensure that people with addictions have the resources to obtain proper treatment; all first responders are required to carry naloxone to reverse opiate overdoses; health-care providers will be required to receive training in substance use disorders as well as consult with prescription monitoring programs to prevent doctor shopping.

Lastly, as her coup de grâce, Clinton invoked mass incarceration, which she wishes to end by providing “treatment over prison for low-level and nonviolent drug offenders.”

She admits that accomplishing such goals won’t be easy, that “it will take commitment from all corners—law enforcement, doctors, insurance companies and government at every level.”

Her push to address the opiate problem arose from the constant barrage on the campaign trail from communities pleading for help. “Every town and city I’ve visited so far in this campaign has stories of families upended by drug addiction,” she wrote.

Clinton is the first 2016 presidential candidate to lay out a concise plan that addresses the opiate problem that’s killing nearly 110 people a day.

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.