Sen. Tammy Baldwin: Why I’m ready to talk about my mother’s struggles with opioid addiction

Last week, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D–Wis.), who is up for reelection in November 2018, recently opened up for the first time about her mother’s on-and-off battle with opioid addiction. After the Associated Press reported on Baldwin’s candid remarks on the crisis, which claimed more than 64,000 lives in 2016, Baldwin dropped a new ad in which she recalled how she’d had to “pound” on the front door as a child to rouse her mother, who’d be passed out on prescription medications. “I had to grow up fast, very fast,” she admits, in a voice-over.

Now Baldwin tells Glamour.com how her mother’s experience influenced not just her policies but her empathetic approach to those struggling with opioid addiction, and what motivated her to speak out about just how close the national opioid crisis hits to home.

“A lot of people know I was primarily raised by my grandparents. In the Senate, where I serve on the HELP committee, I’ve talked a lot about it, because it informs a lot of how I see certain issues. It’s the reason I push for legislation to help people who are caregivers for older relatives and that would support the NIH, which funded a lot of my grandfather’s research. What I have talked about less are my mother’s struggles. As a child, I don’t think I fully understood what they were. And then as an adult, I wanted to respect my mother’s privacy, especially as I moved into politics and into pretty high-profile roles. But whatever the reasons, it’s very clear to me that issues of mental illness and substance abuse are still sources of stigma.”

Read more at Glamour.