From the White House Office of the Press Secretary
Melania Trump Speaks on  Combatting Drug Demand and the Opioid Crisis; Mentions Huntington's Lily's Place

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.) 

 CLICK HERE FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP'S REMARKS:

http://www.huntingtonnews.net/152542

 

WV Senator Shelly Moore Capito issued the following statement:

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “West Virginia has suffered so much because of the opioid epidemic. We have lost friends, neighbors and family members, and we have seen entire communities torn apart by its devastating consequences. Today, the president took a significant step forward in helping us fight this growing epidemic by declaring it a national public health emergency. This declaration makes fighting the opioid epidemic a true national priority and draws attention to the urgency of this crisis. The declaration also makes it easier for the federal government to respond and will help improve and expand access to services for individuals struggling with addiction.”

Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY): “Eastern Kentucky was one of the original epicenters of the opioid epidemic, with powerful prescription painkillers taking hundreds of lives and wrecking countless families through the pain of addiction. Rapidly, the overdose rates have skyrocketed nationwide becoming the leading cause of injury death in America, killing 175 people every day. I applaud President Trump for raising the stakes and declaring the epidemic a public health emergency. It builds upon the momentum of Operation UNITE in Eastern Kentucky, the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse and our congressional efforts to save lives, treat addiction, expand recovery efforts, enhance education and prevention in our communities, and tackle the illicit drug trade.”

Chairman of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) and Arlington, Massachusetts Police Chief Frederick Ryan: “It is fitting that we stood to witness a historic shift in federal drug policy since it was municipal law enforcement that declared two-and-a-half years ago that the opioid epidemic was a public health and a community issue that would never be resolved through arrest alone. I am extraordinarily pleased that this epidemic will receive the attention it so badly needs on all fronts from the federal government.”

Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) Partner and Olmsted Township, Ohio Police Chief Matthew Vanyo: “The number of deaths associated with the opioid epidemic is alarming, and President Trump's declaration today is an important step for the nation in getting those struggling with addiction the help they need to recover. I was honored to stand on stage today as the President made this announcement.”