The Heroin Epidemic

This past Wednesday, 2 March 2016, there was a procedural vote in the Senate to waive budget caps in order to appropriate more funds to fight the epidemic of Heroin and other Opioids (just search Google News for countless recent articles across the country on this). Sam Quinones in his book Dreamland details the origins of the recent epidemic in the widespread use of Oxycodone (OxyContin is the time released form of Oxycodone) and Black Tar Heroin from Mexico. The Opioid epidemic became an issue in the recent New Hampshire Primary but it is a nationwide problem. Atlanta’s Channel 11 television news just did a four part series on how widespread Heroin is in Atlanta’s affluent northern suburbs where packages of heroin are delivered to the front doors of users (the user leaves money under a doormat and the deliveryman takes the money and leaves the heroin).

Below we show the procedural vote on more funds to fight the Opioid epidemic using our Constant-Space DW-NOMINATE Scores. Five Republicans voted “Yea” — Ayotte (R-NH), Collins (R-ME), Graham (R-SC), Kirk (R-IL), and Portman (R-OH). The cutting line goes through the lower left portion of the Republican Party and there are only four “errors” on the roll call with a PRE of 0.91.

Click image to enlarge

Portman’s vote for addition funding is significant. Quinones starts his investigation of the twin epidemics in Portsmouth, Ohio, on the Ohio river. Southern Ohio has been hit hard by the Opioid epidemic and Governor Kasich expanded Medicaid under the ACA in part because of the impact of Oxycodone and Heroin in Ohio. His argument is that treatment and helping the addicted to regain their independence and hold jobs is better than incarceration. Hopefully his point of view will prevail.

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