Heroin Takes Center Stage At Democratic Debate

Photo: Mic Smith / Associated Press.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders were asked a question about the war on drugs during Sunday evening's Democratic primary debate, the candidates got real about the stigma of mental illness.

Clinton tackled the question first; she said that her policy would center on treating addiction to drugs, such as heroin, as a health issue — rather than a crime. "The policing needs to change," Clinton said at the NBC News/YouTube debate.

Clinton also said the government would provide roughly $1 billion for states to deal with America's drug epidemic. "Lives are being lost," Clinton said. She proposed that police officers and firefighters be equipped with antidotes for heroin overdoses and be trained to administer them if necessary. Clinton emphasized that America's response to heroin and drug addiction should emphasize treatment and recovery.

Sanders supported Clinton's plan: "I agree with everything the secretary said." Sanders added that pharmaceutical companies should be responsible for the products they manufacture and be held accountable for the consequences of drug overdoses. Oxycontin and other prescription opiates have been a major contributor to the current drug addiction epidemic. Sanders said that the United States needs a "revolution" in the way it addresses mental health treatment.

It's rare for presidential candidates to agree completely on an issue, but some factors, like mental health, transcend political divides.

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