WASHINGTON – (NewsBlaze) President Donald Trump convened a roundtable on opioid addiction on Wednesday at the White House that featured New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is being asked to lead the President’s commission. The Roundtable included many victims of opioid addiction. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the victim’s statements “very compelling” during the afternoon briefing.
“Opioid abuse has become a crippling problem throughout the United States,” President Donald Trump said. “This is a total epidemic. And I think it’s almost untalked about compared to the severity that we’re witnessing,” said the President.
According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control, 91 Americans die each day from the addiction. Six out of every ten drug deaths come from opiates. Half a million people in the United States lost their lives to the disease from 2000 to 2015. Sean Spicer called those statistics “a call to Arms.”
One victim of opioid addiction, Vanessa Vitolo from Atlantic City, New Jersey during Wednesday’s roundtable told the President that her addiction to Opioids began very innocently after an injury. It then lead to her homelessness.
Vitolo described it by saying “You have no feelings, and you’re a shell, and it takes over your whole life.”
Speaking to Vitolo, the President told her, “It’s hard to believe that you were living in the streets.” He also said that she was like “all-American, perfect.”
The White House used the roundtable to announce that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would be leading the effort. Christie made Opioid addiction a centerpiece in his race for governor.
“This issue causes enormous pain and destruction to everyday families in every state in this country,” Christie said. The New Jersey Governor added “Addiction is a disease, and it is a disease that can be treated. … Folks don’t talk about it … People are afraid and ashamed to talk about drug addiction.”
Spicer, at the top of the press briefing following the president’s roundtable, said that the effort would have law enforcement, education, and treatment action.
Spicer capped off his remarks to reporters on Opiods by saying “I will say – I know the pool was just in there – some of the stories from some of the individuals who have been involved in this with a family member are unbelievably compelling. Their desire to see and to work with the administration to get this problem addressed is one that is plaguing communities, and I know the President places it at the highest priority.”
The White House also announced on Wednesday that the Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration has a biannual program over 5,000 drop off points across the United States where Americans can drop off unwanted drugs. The program in the past year collected over a million pounds of unwanted drugs.
Trump said also on Wednesday that the White House was not just looking for a photo op on the issue and that it would be featured out on the road domestically.
“Yes we will,” he said. “Big issue. Very, big.”