Dimitris Kalogeropoylos / CC BY-SA 2.0

Heroin deaths have increased nearly threefold since 2010, and New Hampshire — a pivotal state in the primaries — is battling record overdose deaths.

Hillary Clinton recalled before rolling out her proposal to tackle substance abuse that she’d never intended the issue of drug overdose to be a focal point of her campaign. But the topic came up repeatedly in conversations between the former secretary of state and voters during the early months. In New Hampshire, the big problem is heroin. In Iowa, it’s meth and prescription drug use.

“I did not expect that I would hear about drug abuse and substance abuse and other such challenges everywhere I went,” Clinton said in August at a forum called to highlight heroin use.

Now the sense has emerged that 2016 presidential contenders may as well skip the New Hampshire primary if they aren’t prepared to discuss the state’s substance abuse epidemic.

The Guardian reports:

Heroin-related overdose deaths increased 286% over the last decade, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. In 2013, more than 37,000 Americans died of a drug overdose – most of them in relation to heroin or prescription painkillers. Dependency has also skyrocketed, with no demographic left untouched, due in large part to access to opioid painkillers.

Prescriptions for opioid painkillers, dubbed by some as “heroin in a capsule,” escalated to a staggering 207 million in 2013 from 76 million per year in 1991. Many whose addiction starts with addictive painkillers later turn to the streets in pursuit of heroin.

In New Hampshire, there were more recorded deaths from drugs in 2014 than traffic accidents in New Hampshire, and they have come at an estimated price tag of $2bn annually in lost productivity, treatment and jail time.

Whether it’s prevention, treatment or recovery centers, all aspects along the continuum of heroin care are overcrowded and underfunded. State lawmakers have until recently neglected the urgency of the issue, and only now is substance abuse under a national spotlight.

Keep reading here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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