Taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention Monday evening, Pam Livengood, a woman from New Hampshire whose family has felt the impacts of the opioid and heroin crisis, and New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen threw their support behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, praising the presumptive nominee’s plans to battle the drug epidemic.
Livengood, who is from Keene, told the story of how she took in her young grandson after drug addiction left her daughter and the boy’s father unable to care for him.
“For my 50th birthday, I got a 2-year-old,” she said. “When you’re my age, you don’t expect to start over again raising a grandchild.”
Similar stories have become more common, as a growing number of young parents find themselves battling drug addiction, and their parents step up to the plate to care for their children.
“My story isn’t unique,” Livengood said. “This epidemic has devastated communities all over the country. It affects all of us. But sometimes it feels like folks in Washington don’t hear these stories.”
While campaigning in New Hampshire, Clinton came to Livengood’s workplace, and asked if anyone there had experience with addiction.
“As I told my story, Hillary listened,” Livengood said. “She even took notes. And then she did something else we don’t see a lot of in Washington: She took action.”
After Livengood’s speech, Shaheen took the convention stage.
“The opioid and heroin epidemic is ravaging communities all across this country,” she said. “It’s a crisis that affects old and young, rich and poor, men and women, Democrats and Republicans.”
Shaheen noted the growing number of deaths caused by drug use, which jumped from 192 in 2013 to 433 last year in New Hampshire alone.
“These statistics tell the story of a staggering epidemic, but statistics can’t really capture the profound human toll,” she said. “Hillary Clinton sees the epidemic and its terrific toll, because she came to New Hampshire not to talk, but to listen.”
Shaheen praised the aspects of Clinton’s plan, throwing her support behind the ideas to prioritize treatment over imprisonment for nonviolent and low-level drug offenses while increasing resources for law enforcement and treatment centers.
She also criticized Republicans for failing to fund an emergency bill she introduced to the Senate that would help close the gap needed to provide similar resources.
“Sadly, it was defeated by Republicans,” Shaheen said. “Donald Trump certainly doesn’t have a plan to deal with this.”
“In fact,” she added, “Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know what’s happening outside of Trump Tower, and he seems completely uninterested in finding out.”