Each candidate was making a slightly different point in sharing his or her family’s struggles. Bush’s was that he, too, can empathize with drug addiction. Christie was urging Americans to stop jailing and start treating addicts. Fiorina had a warning that marijuana can be as dangerous as alcohol. In revealing his pain, Cruz also revealed a different side of the normally bombastic campaigner…

But in simply talking about the havoc drugs have played in their lives at this specific moment in time, Bush, Christie and Fiorina are at the forefront of a subtle but noticeable shift in the American psyche about how we think about drug addiction — that it’s not the addict’s fault.

They’re riding the wave of cultural change built up by a confluence of factors.

Thanks to changing attitudes about marijuana and reports of crowded jails, Americans largely agree that the war on drugs is a failed policy. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey found 67 percent of Americans think the government should focus more on providing treatment to drug users rather than prosecuting them.