2020 Democrats Need to Talk About the Opioid Crisis

Thursday’s debate is the place to start

Caroline McCaughey
GEN
Published in
4 min readSep 12, 2019

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Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images

TThe night after my 26th birthday, I injected a mix of heroin and cocaine into a large vein in my inner thigh, convulsed, and dropped to the floor unconscious. An ambulance rushed me to Beth Israel Medical Center, where doctors told me I’d had a cardiac arrest. They wanted to admit me and run tests. But I checked out “against medical advice” and shot more heroin and cocaine the next day.

I wasn’t suicidal; I was an addict.

Three years earlier, I’d graduated from an Ivy League university with a 4.0 GPA. Now I couldn’t hold down a job. I couldn’t sit still with myself or think about anything except that next shot.

After four years of active addiction — four rehab stints, an outpatient program, two methadone programs, countless Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and multiple hospitalizations for infections from using dirty needles — a prescription for buprenorphine, an opioid-replacement therapy, helped save my life. In the spring of 2008, I boarded a plane to New Mexico to meet my boyfriend and detox on his brother’s property in the high desert outside of Taos. I haven’t used drugs since.

Millions of American voters are either addicted or have family members who’ve died or are…

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Caroline McCaughey
GEN
Writer for

Writer, ghost writer, and director of “Your House Is Mine,” a documentary film about squatting on the Lower East Side. carolinemccaughey.com or @TheCarolineMc