While New Hampshire voters are traditionally animated and vocal during campaign season, one issue this year leaves many of them virtually speechless: the opioid crisis.
The state is one of the nation’s hardest hit by a spiraling American epidemic of narcotic addiction.
In recent ABC News interviews with potential voters in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, they appeared to be passionate about wanting candidates who would be aggressive in dealing with the student loan issue, health care and would work to ensure that small business owners benefit from the booming economy.
But while the opioid crisis was not the first — or second — topic that many of those interviewed volunteered as being a top priority, each time a potential voter was asked about the pervasive problem, his or her face grew visibly somber, a seeming combination of resignation and heartbreak.
“It’s a tragic state of affairs in New Hampshire right now,” Nick Gray, a small-business worker said. “I don’t think you can go anywhere in New Hampshire or spend any amount of time here without knowing someone that’s been impacted by the opioid crisis.”
The opioid crisis is a “perfect storm of a number of factors that have made New Hampshire and some of the other New England states really ground zero in a way,” said Tym Rourke of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Those interviewed were also largely uniform in the belief that combating the opioid crisis must be a bipartisan effort with one common goal: to save fellow Americans from this often fatal addiction.
“It’s a real problem and I think it needs to be addressed by both parties,” Saint Anselm College senior Karoline Leavitt told ABC News. “I think it should absolutely be a bipartisan effort.”
Nick Gray has seen three friends he grew up with die from opioid overdoses, all within the last five years. Leavitt said she knew at least six people who overdosed and died. She said her two older brothers knew even more.
“They were people you would not necessarily believe to be predisposed to that kind of addiction,” Gray added.
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SOURCE: ABC News, Dominick Proto