Revisiting Hillary Clinton’s 5-Point Plan To Treat America’s Opioid Problem

By Victoria Kim 10/13/16

With under a month away from the general election, we are recapping Hillary Clinton's plan to tackle the nation's opioid epidemic. 

Revisiting Hillary Clinton’s 5-Point Plan To Treat America’s Opioid Problem

Last year, Hillary Clinton unveiled her $10 billion plan to address America’s addiction to heroin and pain meds. Her five-pronged strategy is detailed on her website—a comprehensive review of evidence-based practices that treat addiction as a health issue, not a moral failing.

The Democratic Party’s presidential nominee divided her ambitious plan, known as the Initiative to Combat America’s Deadly Epidemic of Drug and Alcohol Addiction, into five areas: prevention, treatment, naloxone, prescribers, and criminal justice reform.

Her plan is detailed, and demonstrates a seemingly unprecedented level of understanding and compassion for addiction. Unfortunately, Donald Trump has not released a similarly detailed anti-opioid addiction strategy. He has said, though, while campaigning in Ohio over the summer, that he would “cut off the source” of heroin by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. “We’re not gonna let this crap come into our country and poison our youth and poison our people, and it comes in mostly from the southern border,” Trump said at the time.

The first area of Clinton’s plan focuses on drug use prevention. Clinton promises to dedicate billions of dollars in federal funding to go to empowering communities to establish their own prevention, peer mentoring and leadership programs for young people.

The second area focuses on treatment. Clinton promises to identify and attempt to fill gaps in treatment by expanding inpatient and outpatient services, and by increasing the number of peer recovery coaches and providers able to treat substance use disorder (SUD). Ultimately, her administration would aim to ensure access to SUD treatment for the majority of people who need it but don't have access to it. “Recovery is only possible through effective and ongoing care, not neglect or stigmatization or episodic treatment,” the candidate's website reads.

The third area focuses on naloxone access. Clinton’s campaign says every first responder should be equipped with naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses.

The fourth area focuses on prescribers. Health providers would be required to be trained on how to treat chronic pain appropriately, and to consult a prescription drug monitoring database before prescribing controlled substances like the powerful opioid OxyContin, which the DEA categorizes as a Schedule II substance.

The fifth and final pillar of Clinton's plan focuses on the criminal justice system. Her plan promises to stop handing down harsh prison sentences to low-level, non-violent drug offenders and divert them to treatment instead. A Clinton administration would purportedly encourage cooperation between criminal justice and public health agencies to collaborate in helping inmates achieve and sustain their recovery, even after they’re released. 

The candidate also promises to crack down on insurers, to make sure they’re fully complying with mental health and addiction parity laws—in an effort to reduce treatment barriers.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr