Substance abuse and addiction have always been an issue in America but these problems have never figured as largely in a Republican primary as they do now.

According to a recent poll in New Hampshire, drug addiction was the number one concern of respondents, topping even jobs and the economy.

Heather Haddon reports at the Wall Street Journal:

Drug Deaths Becoming a 2016 Presidential Election Issue

New Hampshire poll participants put it above jobs and economy as something candidates should address

Buddy Phaneuf, owner of New Hampshire’s largest funeral home network, has overseen burials and cremations in more than 50 heroin-related deaths this year. The average age of the decedent: 32.

Christopher Stawasz, manager of an ambulance service in Nashua, said the city set a record of 28 overdoses in September, then topped it with 37 in October. “It’s surreal,” he said. “It’s just day after day.”

Across the state, overdoses are on track to break last year’s record of 326 deaths. The pattern is so alarming that participants in an October WMUR Granite State poll ranked drug abuse as the most important issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, surpassing jobs and economy for the first time in eight years.

That is prompting a conversation in the state with the nation’s first primary that is remarkably different from prior elections in its expressions of compassion rather than condemnation.

Members of both parties have weighed in on the issue personally:

“It is the most heartbreaking thing in the world to have to go through,” said Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, during a New Hampshire town hall meeting in September. His daughter, Noelle, was arrested for trying to illegally buy prescription drugs and attended mandatory drug treatment.

Former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina has opened up to voters about the hardship of losing her daughter to heroin addiction, and Sen. Ted Cruz has written about losing his half-sister to a drug overdose.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has made substance-abuse treatment a hallmark of his campaign, often speaks of losing a law school friend to prescription pills. “I got a phone call that they found him in a hotel room with an empty bottle of Percocet and a bottle of vodka,” Mr. Christie said during an event at a New Hampshire drug-treatment facility.

Among Democrats, Hillary and Bill Clinton have both spoken emotionally about the prescription pill-related death of a 28-year-old State Department intern while she served as secretary in 2012. The Clinton Foundation has launched an initiative to cut prescription-drug deaths in half.

In the moving video below, Chris Christie talks about his mother’s addiction to cigarettes which ultimately killed her and a friend’s addiction to painkillers which ultimately killed him. Christie makes a great point about the value of people’s lives in the process.

Ted Cruz recently spoke to Jake Tapper about his sister who died of a drug overdose in 2011. Skip to the 1:53 mark to hear the exchange.

Jeb Bush spoke to a group in New Hampshire about dealing with his daughter’s drug addiction.

Last night on Special Report with Bret Baier, the panel discussed the issue and opened with the clip of Carly Fiorina talking about losing a child to drugs.

Featured image via YouTube.