Candidates Address the Growing Heroin Crisis

The three Democratic presidential candidates discuss the growing number of heroin deaths at the ABC News debate.
5:25 | 12/20/15

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Transcript for Candidates Address the Growing Heroin Crisis
This Texas who has destroyed so many families across the country and in particular right here in New Hampshire heroin and there's a stunning new figure out. A recent poll 48%. Here in this state alone say they know someone. Who was abused heroin. We're gonna turn tonight to Dan to we have a New Hampshire union leader who has this question. New Hampshire has been hard hit by the heroin epidemic run track at twice as many overdose deaths. This year as and 2013. What specifically. Would you do to address this crisis senator Sanders and I take this to you first because you've seen what's happened with heroin right on the border in your own state. What this is a tragedy for New Hampshire it is a tragedy for my state of Vermont it is a tragedy all over this country. The number of her when debts are growing very very significantly what are we don't. Well first thought space seem like a radical idea but I think. We have got to tell of the medical profession and doctors who were prescribing. Opiates. And the pharmaceutical industry that they have talked to thought getting their act together we cannot have this huge number of opiates out there. The rock this country where young people are taking them getting booked and then going to our sector the ball on the reason that I believe in a health care for all program. We need to understand that addiction. Is a disease not a criminal activity. Check. The way we deal would mental health and addiction issues when somebody gets addicted and seeking help. They should not have to wait 34 months in order to get that how big should be able to walk did the door tomorrow. And get a variety of treatments that work for that so those are some of the areas that I think we've got to move. And my very first visit to New Hampshire in this campaign I was in Keene. And I was asked what he gonna do about the heroin epidemic. And all over New Hampshire I met. Grandmothers who are raising. Children because they've lost the father the mother to an overdose. I met young people who are desperately trying. To get clean and have nowhere to go because they're not enough facilities. So this is a major epidemic and it has hit New Hampshire and Vermont particularly hard. I've had to town halls one in Keane won in Laconia. Dedicated exclusively to talking about what we can do and I've heard some raped. Ideas about how law enforcement is changing its behavior how the recovery community is really reaching out. And I was proud to get the endorsement of mayor Walsh as Boston who has made his struggle with alcoholism may real. Clarion call for action in this arena. So I laid out a five point plan about what weak hand due to gather. I would like the federal government to offer ten billion dollars over ten years. To work with states and I really applaud governor house and for taking up this challenge and working. With the legislature here to come up with a plan we have to do more. On the prescribing end of that there are too many OP Lloyd's being prescribed and that leads directly now to heroin addiction. And we have to change the way we do law enforcement of course we need more programs and facilities so win somebody is ready to get help there's a place for them to go and every law enforcement should carry. The antidote to overdose the lock sown so that they can save lives that are on the brink of expiring. Secretary I actually about a great deal about this issue. And I have a dear friend played music with them for years should remember one is when it came home with his baby girl and now she's no longer with us. Because of for an addiction and overdose. Alas some in New Hampshire had to take a break shortly after landing and call home comfort and a friend his mother died of an overdose. Drug sets up. Taken far too many of our citizens that's a huge public health challenge. In our own city I mentioned before we become the most addicted city in America. But together every single year I expanded drug treatment funding. Or in our city and then expanded did in our state and we were saving lives every single year. Doing the things that work intervening earlier understanding the continuum of care that's required until we got here. Like every other state in the state in the United States especially in New Hampshire and in the northeast with this OP oil addiction the over prescribing. I agree we need better we need to rein in the over prescribing but I have put forward on Mike and Mike plan a twelve billion dollar federal investment. We have to invest in the local partnerships and the best place intervene. The best indicator of when a person is actually on the verge of killing themselves because of an addiction is that the hospital. That very first time they show up with a near miss we should be intervening there that's what I said to my own public health people what would we do if this horrible. How would we act. So many more Americans have been killed by the combination of heroin and he's highly addictive pain pills and yet. We refuse to act there are things that can be done going to my web site my plan is there it's one of fifteen strategic goals I've set out to make our country a better place by cutting these sorts of -- deaths in half in the next five years. Governor I'm Elliott thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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