In an essay published Tuesday on the website Medium, Bush described in personal details how his daughter, Noelle, struggled with drug addiction.
"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," he wrote. "It’s very debilitating when you have a loved one who is struggling, and you can’t control it. You have to love them, but you also have to make it clear you cannot enable the behavior that gets them in trouble."
An outline of Bush's plan released Monday has no specific detail on how he would implement his ideas or how much it might cost federal and state governments to implement. But the plan also relies on non-governmental actions, including "dedicated parents and strong communities and local education."
"Some try to make the drug epidemic just a criminal justice issue, and some try to make it just a health care issue. These singular approaches oversimplify this complex challenge," the campaign said in a statement outlining the plan. "Governor Jeb Bush believes we need a multi-faceted strategy that: prevents drug abuse and addiction; strengthens criminal justice; secures the border to stop the flow of illicit drugs; and improves treatment and recovery programs."
The campaign said Bush would push to ensure better coordination of federal programs fighting drug addiction and use "evidence-based models" to closely track results. Such talk is a hallmark of Bush's general evidence-based governing style -- that any big policy change must be matched with measured results. He has told voters on the campaign trail that drug control policies he implemented as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007 were all closely tracked for results.
"While federal and state governments must play a critical role in fighting prescription drug abuse, the government cannot solve it all," the campaign added in its outline of Bush's policy. "The private sector must also be committed to joining this fight to achieve success, including coalitions driven by local communities and involving health, local law enforcement and social services professionals."
Bush also would mandate better tracking of "pill mills" -- a doctor's office or medical clinic that routinely doles out prescriptions for pain medications beyond normal medical standards -- and "evidence-based pain clinics," or locations that prescribe medication using normal medical standards.
Fighting "pill mills" has been a top issue for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a leading Bush supporter in his home state. Federal authorities have also stepped up oversight of pill mills in recent months.
As president, Bush would also push to toughen federal drug sentencing on drug lords, cartels and violent drug traffickers, while broadening access to drug courts for nonviolent offenders. Under drug courts, nonviolent offenders are screened for potential criminal risk and usually given the option of undergoing medical treatment and recovery under close supervision instead of serving jail time.
Bush wrote in his essay about how his daughter graduated from drug court: "Drug courts use a restorative solution model involving multi-disciplinary coordination, including the judiciary, the prosecution, mental health specialists, social services and treatment professionals. I was the proud dad that saw Noelle finish that. She’s drug-free now."
Bush's drug policy also calls for implementing his U.S.-Mexico border security plan, which he unveiled in August. His campaign said that as president, Bush also would partner more closely with Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan and other countries to confront illegal drug trafficking.
Finally, Bush would order a review of existing federal prevention, treatment and recovery programs and -- as with the rest of the federal government -- seek to root out cases of duplication across federal agencies.
He told MSNBC in November that as the parent of a drug addict, "You gotta be strong, you gotta pray. In my particular case, my daughter's been drug-free for a long while. And I'm really proud of her. And we stay connected with her."
"It is a huge problem," he added later about drug addiction. "We need a comprehensive strategy to deal with it. But from a personal level, it's just-- you gotta love your children with your heart and soul, doesn't matter their age. Addiction is a dangerous thing. It's scary."