Jeb Bush: A Daughter’s Drug Addiction Leads to a Father’s Strategy

photo of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at recent republican debate talking about the problem of addiction in the U.S.

Jeb Bush: A Daughter’s Drug Addiction Leads to a Father’s Strategy

Addiction Crosses All Barriers, All Lines, All Races, All Incomes

With a lineage that consists of two U. S. presidents, a U.S. senator, two governors, president of major industrial manufacturer and several successful businessmen, one would not expect to find a drug addict on any branch of the respected Bush family tree. However, Noelle Bush, the only daughter of Republican Presidential candidate John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, has endured a long and trying struggle with drug addiction.  In today’s society, substance abuse knows no boundaries. Regardless of gender, race and socio-economic status, the allure of illicit substances continues to have a strong magnetic pull over a significant portion of the population.

Jeb Bush recently addressed the challenges that he and his family have encountered while dealing with his daughter’s disease. As the potential holder of the highest U. S. governmental office, he has outlined steps to fight the drug epidemic in this country. He recognizes that this is a long-term dilemma that needs a long-term solution. According to Bush, “It will take real leadership that makes solving the problem a top priority.” [1]

An Uncontrollable Spiral

Noelle did not wake up one morning and decide to use heroin. However, she did become a statistic in the opiate crisis that is overwhelming this country. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication were written, which is enough for every American to have a bottle of pills. [2]

Opioid abuse serves as a key to unlocking dormant compulsions within a person’s brain. The resulting addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disease that alternates the brain’s mechanisms due to sustained drug use. [3] Some of its symptoms are:

  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to stop or reduce the use of substance
  • Lack of behavioral control, i.e. overwhelming cravings, taking undue risks, etc.
  • Inability to recognize significant behavior and relationship problems
  • Inappropriate emotional responses

Without proper treatment, addiction often involves spiraling between relapse and remission. This never-ending cycle places an enormous amount of stress on a family. But, when your family is in the public eye, the additional pressures are unimaginable. Noelle’s struggle serves as an eye-opening experience for the man who may become the next U.S. president.

A Slippery Slope

The transition from a prescription for OxyContin to heroin is not a difficult one. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, approximately 75 percent of patients addicted to opioids will switch to heroin as a cheaper substitution. [4]

The ease-of-access and lower costs were cited as the two major reasons for the conversion.  This also introduces even greater dangers. Because heroin is illegal and unregulated, it can be laced with anything. Users are virtually unaware of exactly what they are putting in their bodies.

One Vision

In 1989, a group of concerned professionals came together to address the drug epidemic by forming the first drug court. The idea was simple;  to stop treating substance abusers as criminals and to recognize that they were facing a disease that require more help than just jail time. [5]

The concept of combining medical professionals with the judiciary system to create a treatment program that could break the continual recovery-relapse loop was revolutionary. While drug courts have proven to be very effective, the exponential growth of substance abuse in the U. S. requires additional methods of combat.

Tackling the Problem from Many Angles

Noelle is currently in recovery after successfully graduating from the drug court system. In a recent post, Jeb Bush not only addressed Noelle’s substance problems, but he also identified tactics for dealing with the drug epidemic in this country. His versatile strategies included:

  • Preventing drug abuse and addiction before it starts
  • Strengthening criminal justice
  • Securing the border to stop the flow of illicit drugs
  • Improving drug abuse treatment and recovery programs.

Never Too Early to Start

With drug addiction starting at younger ages, the best time for discussion is during early childhood.  Children need to develop strong coping mechanisms so that drugs don’t appear as the only viable option for handling pressure. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) developed a list of the 16 principles for developing a prevention program. Some of the key factors are:

  • Enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors
  • Address all forms of drug abuse
  • Deal with the drug abuse in the local community
  • Tailor program to address risks specific to population or audience characteristics
  • Enhance family bonding and relationships
  • Design the package to intervene as early as preschool
  • Target improving academic and social-emotional learning to address risk factors for drug abuse (Elementary school students)
  • Increase academic and social competence in various areas (Middle/High school students)
  • Aim initiatives at general populations and key transition points, such as the transition to middle school
  • Combine two or more effective programs, such as family-based and school-based programs
  • Present consistent, community-wide message in multiple settings, including schools, clubs, faith-based organization and the media
  • Retain the core elements (Structure, Content and Delivery) when adapted to meet the needs of the community
  • Should be long-term with repeated interventions
  • Include teacher training on good classroom management
  • Employ interactive techniques
  • Should be cost-effective [6]

Adding Support to the Justice System

The justice system is littered with addicts and the mentally ill. Many statistics reveal the overall ineffectiveness of incarceration. Recently, a report revealed that over half of the federal prisoners are serving time for drug crimes. [7]

While drug courts are helping, other options for dealing with addiction in the judicial system are needed.

Drug courts provide an additional mechanism for dealing with the effects of addiction. Since their initial introduction in 1989, they have expanded to include courts dedicated to families, adults, veterans, DWI-related and juveniles. Courts have also been established to deal with parolees’ reentries into the community after incarceration. These specific courts help with jobs, housing and any other services that will keep the individuals drug-free. As of June 2014, 2,968 drug courts are in operation in the United States. [8] While drug courts are helping, other options for dealing with addiction in the judicial system are needed.

Developing a Solid Line

Drug seizures at the U. S. borders are constantly making headlines. While there are many governmental departments that handle drug interdiction, Bush suggests that direct intervention from the highest offices would have the most impact on improving border control.

He affirms that the establishment of better relationships with the nations responsible for the majority of illicit substances will lessen the drug flow. Whether it’s better border patrol, guidelines or coordination, stopping drugs before they enter this country is one of the best ways to reduce drug abuse.

Better Drug Recovery Program

The last part of Bush’s strategy called for improvement in treatment and recovery programs for drug addiction. Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches (BHOPB) offers a comprehensive program designed to deal with the addiction disease. In a warm and welcoming environment, we empower our patients with the tools that they need to manage and overcome their affliction.

With intervention, detox and holistic programs, we can design a strategy that will help you become a better you. Noelle did it and so can you. For more information about a drug rehabilitation plan for you, call BHOPB at (888) 432-2467.

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