Although the world is likely to remember the first night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention for the speeches made by Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders, there was one speaker that resonated heavily with members of the recovery community, and for good reason. Keene, New Hampshire resident Pam Livengood took the stage in Philadelphia on July 25 to discuss how opioid addiction had impacted her family, and continues to do so. Livengood is currently the legal guardian of her grandson Francis, whose parents continue to struggle with drug abuse. Substance abuse was many of issues discussed on the opening night of the convention.
Stories like Pam’s are relatively common around New Hampshire, which continues to battle an escalating opioid crisis. Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton went to New Hampshire on a campaign stop over a year ago in an effort to get a better grasp on the issue and residents’ struggles. Livengood, an assembly lead for a furniture company, thought Clinton wanted to talk to her about the plight of small businesses in America. When she learned that Clinton wanted to learn more about the region’s substance abuse issues, she didn’t hesitate to tell her story: first to Clinton than to the country.
During her roughly three-minute speech, the 54-year-old Livengood described the anguish her family experienced while watching her daughter struggling with addiction, and her journey into treatment. She also discussed the universal nature of addiction and Clinton’s plan to help curb opioid abuse across the United States. It was a reminder of just how many families struggle with this issue and how more intervention is needed at the federal, state and local levels to better counteract the problem. In a 24-hour-a-day election cycle that’s covered just about everything but the prevailing public health issue facing America (save for a few sound bites), we can only hope to see more light be shed on this issue which affects millions of families.