In the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 people in the United States, many Americans have shifted their focus away from another crisis that has claimed nearly exactly that many lives over the past three years: substance use and addiction.
Now, the Trump campaign’s continued attacks on Hunter Biden in the closing days of the presidential campaign—largely framed around his publicly documented struggles with addiction in the past—are adding to the frustrations of treatment experts already contending with a substance use epidemic exacerbated by the coronavirus. Some, however, are hopeful that the conversation about addiction could bring renewed focus to President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s proposals for addressing the country’s other public health disaster.
“We would hope that they recognize that until COVID arrived, the only national health crisis was around substance use disorders,” said Mark Dunn, director of public policy for the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. “The problems around mental health and substance use disorder have only been exacerbated due to COVID, and so when we come through this with a vaccine, or however we get through it, there are a lot of people that are going to need a lot of help.”