POLITICS

Marco Rubio promises to champion rehab centers for heroin addicts in Senate

NASHUA, NH - JANUARY 23: Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at the NHGOP First In The Nation Town Hall January 23, 2016 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The convention was a day long affair and featured presidential candidates looking to win the first in the nation primary. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

NASHUA, NH - JANUARY 23: Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at the NHGOP First In The Nation Town Hall January 23, 2016 in Nashua, New Hampshire. The convention was a day long affair and featured presidential candidates looking to win the first in the nation primary. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)  (2016 Getty Images)

As community leaders rehashed stories and numbers, Sen. Marco Rubio took notes and listened. A row of women in the audience sat waiting for a solution.

"It is tough. You don't expect to lose your children and grandchildren before you," offered Gerri Stanhope, who knows all too well the horrible effects of heroin.

She has lost four family members within a year to the deadly drug.

"You'd like to smack them for using. You'd like to smack the dealers for selling," she continued.

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Ten months into this year, there have been 69 deaths and 916 overdoses from heroin in Manatee County.

Deputies are cracking down on dealers. Paramedics now carry a drug to reverse the effects of an overdose, but people continue to die week after week.

"As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. In my opinion, if we can get the money for rehabs and people on the right track, the demand slows down the dealers will go away," said Stanhope.

Sen. Marco Rubio said he plans on taking the issue to the U.S. Senate.

"People have to have access to treatment and treatment that works," he said.

It is an issue that will cost money. Sen. Rubio said we need more rehab centers, long-term help for addicts and a better understanding of the problem. 

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