Hillary Clinton Sets Aside Time at DNC to Address U.S. Opioid Epidemic

What Happened?

Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton took time at the Democratic National Convention to talk about opioid use and the epidemic of addiction that currently exists in the United States. In addition, Senator Clinton has created a video which was posted to YouTube, called Combating Substance Abuse. It can be found here.  In the video, Clinton can be seen listening to police officers, public speakers, friends and relatives of addicts, and to former addicts about their experiences with opioid addiction. In addition, Mrs. Clinton acknowledged the frequent belief that these types of concerns in America should be hidden away, in favor of presenting a prettier picture of the country. She encouraged people who have struggled or who are struggling to speak up and for the nation to bring this issue into the spotlight so that the stigma can be challenged and so that change can begin to happen. Hillary Clinton ended the video by talking about how she wants an America in which changes are made that better the lives of those in need.

Why Was That Important?

Currently, millions of Americans are struggling with opioid addiction or love someone who is struggling with opioid addiction. Too often, the families of these people face the horrible stigmas associated with addiction, which leads them to hide this part of their lives. That desire to keep the truth hidden can prevent the addict or their loved ones from getting the help necessary for rehabilitation or the emotional support that can lead to a stronger life moving forward. By bringing this struggle to the public’s attention, Hillary Clinton helped to begin a dialogue within the country and began to help people to realize that they absolutely can ask for the help they need. In addition, Senator Clinton’s focus on listening to those who live in small towns and wanting to tackle the problems they face each day shows the American public the type of president she would be as that of someone who listens and cares about individuals, no matter how little their income, no matter how strong the stigmas or prejudices are about people and their problems.

What Can It Mean For The Future?

Currently, the presidential election is several months away. We do not yet know who will be elected President. However, when one candidate focuses on a social concern, it is fairly common for others to also address that issue. Whether Senator Clinton has begun a political dialogue about opioid addiction or whether she is the only one in this election who will point out this growing concern, she has shifted focus to this pressing issue. If Mrs. Clinton wins the election, she will have a platform as president to continue to focus on opioid addiction, on areas of treatment that lack funding or support, and on what can be done to prevent addictions from beginning in the first place. This can translate to a reduction of stigma and an increase in federal funding and support for addiction treatment facilities, clinics, and for recovering addicts. It can also lead to assistance programs for families of addicts, which can aid in keeping families unified during the treatment process and in preventing the children of addicts from falling into their own experiences with addiction.

What Can I Do To Contribute?

It depends what your goal is. If you are over the age of 18 and a United States citizen with no felonies, you can register to vote and make your voice count in the upcoming election. If you choose to vote and are looking to contribute to continuing to shine light on the opioid epidemic, you can cast your ballot for those whose beliefs and goals align with yours by researching the politicians currently running for office and learning about their policies on drug addiction and on funding supportive programs. If their stance is not evident from their website, you can contact their office and ask for more information. If you are looking to be more proactive, you can contact your local hospital or clinic to inquire where they need help. They may ask you a series of questions about your age, skills, and how much time you are willing to commit to them before offering you opportunities to volunteer. If you are looking for something less regimented, you can simply be a support system for someone you know who is struggling with opioid addiction in their life. Sometimes, being a nonjudgmental friend is what a person needs most while they struggle with their own addiction or while they struggle with the sobriety of a loved one. If you are simply looking to do a small bit of good, everyone can, simply by refusing to make fun of addiction, by refusing to support exploitative media that makes money off of people struggling with addiction, and by offering your support to friends who may be struggling with opioid addiction.1-4

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