Sanders: Doctors, Pharmaceutical Industry Must Answer for Nation's Addiction Crisis

By Susan Jones | February 4, 2016 | 7:25am EST
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., answers a question from the audience during a Democratic primary town hall sponsored by CNN, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

( - Asked what he would do to make recovery services available for substance abusers and addicts, Bernie Sanders called it a "terrible problem" that must be viewed as a health issue, not a criminal issue.

After plugging universal health care at CNN's town hall in New Hampshire, Sander said it's also important to address the causes of addiction:

"And the other question that we have to ask is -- and it's a tough question, nobody I know knows the answer -- why is it? Why is it (happening)?

"One of the reasons, by the way, is I think doctors are prescribing opiates in a way that they have to cut back a litte bit on. They are giving out a whole lot of pills.

"A friend of mine got a molar removed. He got 50 very strong pain-killing drugs. And these drugs are rampant, kids are using them, geting addicted, and then getting into heroin.

"So I think we got to talk to the pharmaceutial industry about what they're producing, doctors what they're prescribing, and then we have to make treatment available to people when they need it."

Earlier, Sander said it's "absolutely imperative" that mental health and addiction be part of universal health care.

"And what that means is, when people need treatment, they shouldn't have to wait three months. When they need it, they should be able to get it."

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