Jeb Bush discussed at length on Tuesday the difficulties of being a parent whose child battled drug addiction before an audience at a substance abuse forum in New Hampshire, calling it "the heartbreak of drug abuse."
"What I learned was that the pain that you feel when you have a loved one who has addiction challenges and kind of spirals out of control is something that is shared with a whole lot of people," he said, NBC News reported.
Bush's daughter, Noelle Bush, had a long struggle with addiction. She faced felony charges from attempting to fill a fraudulent prescription for Xanax when she was 24. Later, she served a jail sentence after she was found with pills and then crack cocaine.
"It's very debilitating when you have a loved one who's struggling and you can't control it," Bush told the Huffington Post. "I don't know what it's like to lose a daughter. But I almost did."
In a blog post at Medium, Bush wrote, "As a father, I have felt the heartbreak of drug abuse. My daughter Noelle suffered from addiction, and like many parents facing similar situations, her mom and I struggled to help."
He added: "I never expected to see my precious daughter in jail. It wasn't easy, and it became very public when I was Governor of Florida, making things even more difficult for Noelle. She went through hell, so did her mom, and so did I."
Bush's proposed plan to curb drug abuse and improve treatment, according to ABC News, has four tiers: preventing abuse and addiction before it begins; strengthening criminal justice efforts; securing the border; and improving drug abuse treatment plans. Bush said he plans to expand drug courts that will privilege treatment over incarceration, as well as identify and shut down "pill mills" - health care facilities that over-prescribe drugs, which can cause and enable addiction.
The small state of New Hampshire had 295 opioid-related deaths last year, putting the issue at the center of attention for the state. A recent New Hampshire 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, The Wall Street Journal reported.