Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) shared an emotional story of his half-sister’s battle with drug addiction during Saturday night’s ABC News presidential debate.
Cruz’s testimony was in response to a moment in the debate when moderator David Muir referenced a comment from New Hampshire’s governor about the high rate of heroin overdose in the state. Muir then said 48 percent of New Hampshire residents know a heroin abuser.
Cruz spoke of his family’s experience with his half-sister, Miriam, by saying:
“My older sister, Miriam, who was my half-sister, struggled her whole life with drug and alcohol addiction. My father and her mom divorced when she was a little girl and she was angry her whole life, and she ended up marrying a man who had been in and out of jail. She then became a single mom and she herself went to jail several times and she ended up spending some time in a crack house.
“I still remember my father and me driving up to get Miriam out of that crack house to try to convince her she needed to be a mom to — to my nephew Joey.
“She wasn’t willing to listen. She was not willing to change the path that she was on. She was angry. I was–had just gotten my first job coming out of law school. I took a $20,000 loan on a credit card to put my nephew, Joey, in Valley Forge Military Academy–he was in sixth grade at the time, to pay his way through that.
“And about five, six years ago, Myriam died of an overdose. It was–the coroner ruled it accidental. We don’t know. She went to [bed] one night, had taken too many pills, and Joey walked in and found her dead.”
Along with sharing the story of Miriam, Cruz addressed the overall problem of drug addiction in the United States and how an unsecured border contributes to the issue:
“This is an absolute epidemic. We need leadership to solve it. Solving it has to occur at the state and local level with programs like A.A., and counseling, and churches and charities. But it also has to be securing the borders, because you have got Mexican cartels that are smuggling vast amounts of heroin into this country.
“We know how to secure the borders. What is missing is the political will to do it. And as president, I will secure the border, we will end this deluge of drugs that is flowing over our southern border and that is killing Americans across this country.”
Other Candidates Views on Drug Addiction
Cruz is among several other candidates for the 2016 race for president that have shared their views on drug addiction. It is expected to be an important discussion on the campaign trail since it affects approximately 40 million people in the United States. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths have quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.
Along with Cruz, the candidates that have been affected by a loved one’s struggle with addiction, include:
- Jeb Bush: Jeb’s daughter had a drug addiction and was jailed at one point.
- Chris Christie: Chris had a close friend that died of a drug overdose.
- Carly Fiorina: Carly’s step-daughter died while battling a drug addiction.
- Donald Trump: Donald’s brother died from the effects of alcoholism.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both shared their views and plans on drug and alcohol addiction. Back in September 2015, Clinton announced a $10 billion plan and wrote an op-ed about it, saying:
“It’s time we recognize that there are gaps in our healthcare system that allow too many to go without care — and invest in treatment. It’s time we recognize that our state and federal prisons, where 65 percent of inmates meet medical criteria for substance abuse disorders, are no substitute for proper treatment — and reform our criminal justice system.”
Sanders has been outspoken about addiction and says it’s a “disease not a criminal activity.” He calls for “radical” change on the issue, saying the healthcare community needs to “get its act together” when prescribing opioid pain medications and addressing the issues of mental health and addiction. In a statement on FeeltheBern.org, he said:
“What I can tell you is this: We have far, far, far too many people in jail for nonviolent crimes, and I think in many ways, the war against drugs has not been successful.”
Disclaimer: This article is in no way an endorsement for any political candidate for President of the United States. It is just presenting the news and facts from the candidates about addiction.