For one in five users (almost 2 million nonelderly adults), the nonmedical use of opioids increases to the level of opioid use disorder, often referred to as abuse, dependence, or addiction. Overdose deaths involving opioids have quadrupled since 1999, with over 14,000 individuals dying from opioid overdoses in 2014, leading to what many refer to as an “opioid epidemic.” The opioid epidemic creates an estimated $55 billion annually in societal costs, such as health care expenditures, workplace costs due to lost wages and utilization of sick days, and criminal justice costs. Proposed policy actions to address the opioid epidemic include efforts to change prescribing practices to curb utilization of opioids, improve access to treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder, and enforcing drug laws to combat access, sale and use of illicit drugs.
Where the Candidates Stand
Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton has released a $10 billion (over ten years) plan to fight drug addiction. The plan includes a federal-state partnership to support education and mentoring programs, development of treatment facilities and programs, efforts to change prescribing practices, and criminal justice reform. Clinton’s plan also includes direct federal action to increase funding for treatment programs, change federal rules regarding prescribing practices, enforce federal parity standards, promote best practices for insurance coverage of substance use disorder services, and issue guidance on treatment and incarceration for nonviolent and low-level federal drug offenders.
Donald Trump. Donald Trump has said that his plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border will help stop the flow of drugs and thus address the opioid epidemic.