How The Democratic Candidates Would Respond To The Heroin Crisis

The Democratic presidential candidates were asked at Saturday night’s debate how they would respond to the national heroin crisis, which has hit New Hampshire, the host of the debate, particularly hard.

That the epidemic would be discussed at all is another indication of how deep it has penetrated, with a moderator noting a New Hampshire survey suggesting that nearly half the people in the state knew somebody hit by the crisis.

None of the answers broke new ground on the policy front, with each calling for more resources for treatment and a shift away from a criminal justice-first approach.

Hillary Clinton said that she regularly hears from people hit by the crisis and as a result created a five-point plan to address it.Vermont’s Bernie Sanders (I) said that a “variety of treatments” ought to be available to those addicted, presumably a reference to a debate within the community over whether strict abstinence is the only acceptable route to recovery, or whether medications such as methadone or Suboxone should be allowed — a debate highlighted earlier this year in an in-depth HuffPost investigation.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has extensive experience with the issue given the problems plaguing Baltimore, had the most specific response, highlighting the value of intervening when an addict arrives at an emergency room (which sounds like common sense, but often they are ignored or turned away with perfunctory treatment). He also described two overdose deaths of people connected to him.