EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) -- The White House is launching a new $5 million initiative to combat heroin use and trafficking of the drug, particularly in states along the East Coast.

ST. JOHNSBURY, VT - FEBRUARY 06: Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin on February 6, 2014 in Vermont. (Spencer Platt, Getty Images)

About half of the money will fund a program to link public health and law enforcement agencies, with the goal of prioritizing treatment for drug users over punishments. Monday's announcement comes amid a spike in heroin use and deaths in the United States.

The rise in heroin use has become a frequent topic in the 2016 presidential campaign. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton recently held a forum in New Hampshire on drug addiction, an issue she said voters have been frequently raising as she's campaigned in the early voting state.

 

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