Inside Elizabeth Warren's Plan To Address The Opioid Epidemic

By Beth Leipholtz 02/20/19

Warren is one of the few 2020 presidential candidates to have discussed a plan to confront the opioid epidemic.

 Elizabeth Warren

As more names are being thrown into the hat for the 2020 presidential race, only one has spoken up about her plans to address the opioid epidemic.

Elizabeth Warren has made some strides to combat the opioid crisis during her time as a U.S. Senator, according to Vox, and plans to continue to do so during her run for presidency.

In her time in Congress, she has made a push for additional research into alternatives to opioids. She has also voiced her opinions about President Donald Trump’s response to the epidemic, calling it “pathetic.” 

In 2018, Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act to Congress. If put into play, the bill would spread $100 billion to various states and organizations to fight the crisis over a 10-year period.  

“Our communities are on the front lines of the epidemic, and they’re working hard to fight back,” Warren tells Vox. “But they can’t do it alone. They can’t keep nibbling around the edges.”

Warren is one of the few 2020 presidential candidates to have discussed a plan to confront the opioid epidemic. This could be because her state of Massachusetts has been hit particularly hard by the crisis with its drug overdose deaths at 31.8 per 100,000 in 2017, compared to the national average of 21.7.

The CARE Act, according to some experts, is one of the only plans presented with potential to make a difference in the epidemic. Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, tells Vox that Warren’s bill “is the only one that really grasps the nettle of how big the problem is.” 

“Whatever else people might say about it, this is the first thing that really recognizes that [the opioid crisis] is a massive public health problem, like AIDS, and is not going to be solved by a tweak here, a tweak there,” he adds.

The $100 billion involved in the CARE Act would be used in various ways, according to Vox. Some would be given to local government and nonprofits and some would be spread to numerous states, territories and tribal governments.

This could be determined by overdose levels in certain areas, but some funding would also be given through a competitive grant process. Remaining funding would be dedicated to treatment, research, training and more access to overdose antidote naloxone. 

Despite the support of some experts, Warren and Cumming’s bill has not made great progress in Congress. In the House, according to Vox, it received only 81 cosponsors, and in the Senate, it got none. Still, the two plan to reintroduce the bill in coming months. 

Warren hasn’t hesitated to point out President Trump’s failure to deliver on his promises. In 2016, Trump said he would “spend the money” to confront the opioid epidemic. 

“The Trump administration has treated this crisis like a photo op,” Warren tells Vox. “They talk a good game and produce nothing.”

Although the CARE Act likely would not be able to address the entire epidemic on its own, it would be a start, Warren says.

“Resources make a difference,” Warren tells Vox. “Not strong words. Not photo ops. But real money. Without real resources, the opioid crisis will continue to grow.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.