Melania Trump photo

Remarks by the First Lady on Combatting Drug Demand and the Opioid Crisis

October 26, 2017

MRS. TRUMP: Thank you all for being here today. It touches my heart to see the many familiar faces of the people I have been lucky to get to know over the last few months. Thank you for the time and strength it takes for each of you to tell your stories.

We are here today because of your courage. The opioid epidemic has affected more than 2 million Americans nationwide, and sadly, the number continues to rise. We lose more than 175 Americans to overdoses every day, and millions more are struggling with addiction.

As many of you know, addiction affects children in many different ways. And I have recently taken a larger interest in what I can do to help fight this epidemic. (Applause.)

I have been participating in meetings and listening sessions, and I have been visiting with people who have been affected by this disease. I want to take a moment now to tell you what I have learned from the men and women on the front lines of this epidemic.

Don Holman talked to me about his son Garrett, who took medication for ADHD and suffered from depression and anxiety. He explained that social media played a part in his son's erratic moods and behaviors. Garrett started to buy synthetic opioids online, and self-medicated for his depression, passing away from an overdose just eight days before his 21st birthday.

Don Holman taught me that the stigma of drug addiction must be normalized, and talking about it is the only way to do that.

Coach David McKee talked about his friend who became addicted after his pain medication was prescribed for a sports injury. His friend died from an overdose, and through his tragic loss, Coach McKee taught me how important is it to educate kids, athletes, and parents, because his friend was not weak-minded. In fact, like so many of our kids today, he was competitive and strong-willed.

Sabrah Jean Collar, who is now in her 10th year of recovery, helped me learn that drug addiction is an affective disease. But with the proper support and medical attention, a person can move on to live a healthy and happy life.

We are so proud of you for all that you have overcome, Sabrah, and pray for you as you continue on this journey. Where you are, Sabrah? Hello. Thank you. (Applause.)

When I had the honor of visiting Lily's Place in West Virginia, a recovery center for infants born addicted to drugs, I learned that to help babies succeed, we must help their parents succeed. By placing a priority of the whole family, Lily's Place is giving infants the best opportunity to thrive, because their parents are being given the support and tools they need to succeed.

I want to thank Rebecca Crowder and the staff at Lily's Place for their heroic efforts. Thank you. (Applause.)

I have learned so much from those brave enough to talk about this epidemic, and I know there are many more stories to tell. But what I found to be the common theme with all of these stories is that this can happen to any of us. Drug addiction can take your friends, neighbors, or your family. No state has been spared and no demographic has been untouched, which is why my husband and his administration has dedicated itself to combatting this health crisis by using every resource available.

I'm so proud to support him today as he see this commitment through. I look forward to continue my work on behalf of children across the country, and hope that citizens everywhere will join forces with this administration to help end this health crisis.

Thank you very much for being here with us today. God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Melania Trump, Remarks by the First Lady on Combatting Drug Demand and the Opioid Crisis Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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