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Pool report #3a - recovering addicts and DEA
Francesca Chambers • Daily Mail
March 29, 2017: 01:47 PM


The first recovering addict to speak:

Vanessa Vitolo, Recovering Addict

Vitolo told Christie, "I need you to know that I draw so much strength and courage from you."

Vitolo said she had an injury that after she went to college and became hooked on painkillers afterward.

Trump asked: "So this all began very innocently with an injury?"

Vitolo said it began with Percocet, then oxycodone, then she moved on to heroin, because it's cheaper.

"Very quickly," she said she "lost everything."

She was homeless and in and out of jail and then went to a long-term treatment facility.

Trump asked her if it was hard to get off the drugs.

"Physically, it was so hard."

"You have no feelings, and you're a shell, and it takes over your whole life."

The president couldn't believe that she had been addict.

"It's hard to believe that you were living in the streets,' he told her, saying that she was like "all-American, perfect"

Getting deeper into her story, Vitolo said her mom would drive the streets of Atlantic City looking for her.

HERE

She eventually went to a halfway house, then she got a job and moved into an apartment.

"It's amazing the opportunities that have been given to me," she said, noting that she was sitting across the room from the president. "Three years ago, I didn't have a place to live."

In an especially emotional moment of the rountable, that had some attendees welling up, including Kellyanne Conway, who was visibly affected, Viotolo said:

"There is hope and there is a tomorrow, and there is a day after that. You just have to fight for it."

She said there's a point where you have nothing, "so there's no point to get sober."

But she knows now "There is a better life." She said she would she could express the "heartbreak" she feels for people who are overdosing and the families that have to go through this.

"We can change this, and that's the most amazing thing I've ever been a part of."

"I used to think that being an addict was a downfall, but look at me. I'm here today. It's obviously made me a stronger and better person."

CLAPPING

SECOND SPEAKER: AJ Solomon, Founder of Victory Bay Recovery Center

His father is a Supreme Court Justice in New Jersey, who was appointed by Governor Christie.

His dad car accident and that was how he got hooked on oxy.

"Addiction is a disease that I always had and just had to be unlocked, and that's what I feel oxycodone did for me." he said

Now he is a brother and a son and a business owner. He now helps other alcoholics and addicts at a treatment center.

"I was a thief and a pair, and I ended up homeless."

He said he changed because he got on his knees and prayed to God "let me die or just let me get this."

"I planned to shoot myself," he said. "I didn't have a gun."

"Back then I would rather die than have this disease."

How did he get off of heroin? Trump wanted to know

Went to mountains in Arizona, went into detox, went cold turkey

"It's like 20x worse than the flu, but the anxiety is the worst part."

How long? Trump wanted to know.

Two weeks, Solomon told him.

That was he knew?

"No, then mental obsession came."

"I didn't want to be that person anymore so I figured kill myself," he said.

But his dad canceled all my personal credit cards, "I still don't know how he did it."

So he couldn't get on a plane "to get home to get what I needed to end my life."

Trump told him in the end, "We're very proud of you."

CLAPPING

The next person, works in the NJ State Dept. of Education, Christie explained. She lost her son Carlos.

THIRD PERSON: Pam Garozzo, Drug Awareness Advocate

She said she was there "Unfortunately because my son is no longer here."

Held up a picture of her son Carlos. She said he was there in December walking her down the aisle and had been clean 10.5 months. Then, 3 weeks later on Dec. 23, three police detetectives showed up at her door to tell her the news "that no parent wants to hear."

"Nothing prepares you for this journey," she said.

Carlos overdosed on a drug that was laced with fentanyl.

She said it started with marijuana at 15. "It was absolutely for him a gateway drug" to heroin and crystal meth.

At 18, when he was a senior, he had an overdose from crystal meth.

After that episode, he got in a program, but less than a year later he was doing drugs again and ended up in jail.

He was in jail a couple of times, then would get clean. He even started volunteering at a recovery house and speaking at conferences.

"Sadly, as I said he did pass."

"Nothing in parenting prepares you to deal with the fact that Mike and I will outlive our son. That his sisters who he idolized and who were so close to him, won't see him anymore. That there will be empty seats at the Thanksgiving table."

"I'll miss his laughter, I'll miss his smile, I'll miss him," she said.

Jeff Sessions then thanked them for sharing stories.

He said the lower prices are creating addictions quicker.

When did this start again, Trump wanted to know, this spike.

"I think the fentanyl" brought it, Sessions said, saying Rosenberg could answer this question.

Trump then asked Rosenberg the same question.

He said in the last 8 to 10 years. "The trajectory has been awful."

Americans consume most of the world's supply of hydrocodone and oxycodone, he said.

"Once you get hooked on that, heroin is cheaper and more plentiful, and folks just make that transition. We have to change the culture, if we can," he said.

He mentioned that April 29 is the next date for people to drop off anything in their medicine cabinets they don't want, and DEA will continue to have that program two times a year.

Trump wanted to know where the drugs are coming from, noting that a lot comes from "the southern border."

"A lot of it comes through Mexico, and a lot of it's produced in Mexico," Rosenberg confirmed. "We've worked closely with our Mexican counterparts."

"Secretary Kelly knows that as well as anyone."

"A lot of it comes from Asia," he said, naming China as a source of synthetics.

"There's a lot of work to be done, and there's a lot of smart people around this table."

"Education, prevention and Treatment," he said are "crucial."

Trump was asked if he would take this issue on the road: "Yes we will," he said. "Big issue. Very, very big issue."



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