Jeb Bush unveiled a nationwide plan to fight substance abuse on Tuesday and took the opportunity to speak about his family's own struggle with drugs. "As a father, I have felt the heartbreak of drug abuse," he writes at Medium. "My daughter Noelle suffered from addiction, and like many parents facing similar situations, her mom and I struggled to help." Noelle Bush, then 24, was arrested in 2002 for attempting to fill a fraudulent prescription for Xanax, then for possessing crack cocaine at a Florida rehab center, per the Guardian. "I never expected to see my precious daughter in jail," Bush writes, adding Noelle "went through hell" but is now "drug-free." "What I learned was that the pain that you feel when you have a loved one who has addiction challenges ... is something that is shared with a whole lot of people," he added at a substance abuse forum in New Hampshire, per the New York Times.
More than 37,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2013, and New Hampshire is in the midst of a heroin epidemic: Opioid deaths in the state were up 76% in 2014, per the Times. "This is a national calling. It has to be locally driven, inspired by people acting on their heart," Bush said. "I think having a first lady [who] is focused on this along with her husband could be helpful." If elected president, Bush says he would give federal support to prevention efforts, enact tougher sentences for drug cartels, lower mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, offer closely monitored treatment options to non-violent offenders, strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, and partner with countries like Mexico to stop the flow of drugs into the US. Also speaking at the event were Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Carly Fiorina, who talked about losing her stepdaughter to drug addiction. (Jeb Bush may have an unrealistic view of his brother's popularity.)