President and Mrs. Trump ddress participants of the 8th annual Prescription Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The summit is “the largest national collaboration of federal, state, and local professionals working to address the prescription drug abuse and misuse epidemic. Anticipated Start time 1:30pm EST
UPDATE: Video Added
Transcript] – 1:45pm EDT – MRS. TRUMP: Thank you, Congressman Rogers. It is an honor to be with you. Today, we come together to address an issue that is close to all of our hearts: saving Americans from the disease of opioid addiction.
Before I begin, I want to thank members of law enforcement for all they do to protect us each day. (Applause.) You are each heroes, and this administration will always honor your life-saving work.
In my role as First Lady, much of my focus has been on addressing the terrible toll the opioid epidemic is having on our children and young mothers. I have seen firsthand both the medical and personal results of this crisis. I have visited hospitals and treatment centers around the country. I have met with doctors, nurses, mothers, and children.
We will continue to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids to unborn babies. We are also committed to supporting more treatment facilities that help both mothers and babies recover, and replace the bond of addiction with the bond of love between a mother and her child.
Last year, I was grateful for the opportunity to send a video message to the children who attended Operation UNITE’s incredible summer camp. As I told them, I have launched an initiative to encourage young Americans to “Be Best.” One of three pillars of this initiative is addressing the opioid epidemic. I’m proud of this administration’s historic actions to combat this crisis.
Together, we are making real progress to help people recover, to support families, and to heal our nation. My husband is here today because he cares deeply about what you’re doing to help the millions of Americans affected by the opioid epidemic.
This afternoon, he has an important message to share. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to introduce the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: We love that song, but let’s get going. Right?
I want to thank you all, and I want to thank, especially, Melania — she works so hard — and those moving words, even though it is from your wife, so she’s maybe a little bit prejudiced in that way. But I will say that she is a hard worker and has a profound commitment to building a drug-free future for America’s children. We’re going to do it too. We’re going to do it. (Applause.) Made a lot of progress.
Today, I’m honored to join the thousands of leaders — and that’s what you are: leaders — from across the country for the 2019 Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. Very important. Everyone here today is united by the same vital goal: to liberate our fellow Americans from the grip of drug addiction and to end the opioid crisis once and for all. (Applause.) It’s happening. It’s happening. That’s happening.
I want to recognize the founder of Operation UNITE for his unwavering community service, for his incredible commitment, and to address this critical issue: Congressman Hal Rogers. A friend of mine for a long time. And I want to thank you very much, Hal, wherever you may be. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Hal. Good job. Very dedicated guy.
We’re also grateful to Operation UNITE’s President and CEO, Nancy Hale. (Applause.) Thank you, Nancy.
And thanks also to an outstanding public servant, a man who works day and night. No matter when I need him, he’s there. I’ll call him at the strangest hours. He’s always there working. Secretary Alex Azar. It’s really great, Alex, what you’re doing. (Applause.) Thank you.
And CDC Administrator, Dr. Robert Redfield, who is helping us to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2030. And we’re there; we’re going to be able to do that. People are shocked. Please, stand up, Doctor. So important. (Applause.) I said that recently in a speech: We will eradicate AIDS by 2030. We’ve made such incredible progress. And they didn’t know what I was talking about. They couldn’t believe it. They came up to me after the speech, Doctor. They said, “Do you mean that?” That’s right — we’re going to have it eradicated by 2030. Thank you very much, Doctor. Very important.
Also with us is the Lieutenant Governor of this great state, a friend of mine and a man who — he’s worked so hard with Brian. The combination of Jeff Duncan and Brian has been pretty much unbeatable. They’re doing a fabulous job. Jeff, thank you very much. Jeff, where are you? Jeff? (Applause.) Jeff, thank you. Stand up, Jeff. Great job. Really great job. And, Mrs. Duncan, thank you very much.
And the Georgia Attorney General, Chris Carr. Chris, thank you. (Applause.) Tough guy. And he’s in there fighting for us. I know that.
As well as members of Congress: Rick Allen, Drew Ferguson, Barry Loudermilk, and Jody Hice. We have them all. We have them all. (Applause.) That’s a pretty unbeatable group. We’ve been doing okay together, haven’t we? Huh? We’ve been doing good.
To all of the people in this room who serve every day on the frontiers and frontlines of this crisis — and a crisis it is — you have earned the gratitude of our entire nation. You may not even know it, but our nation loves you and they love what you’re doing. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
You are the first responders who bring patients back to life. You are the law enforcement officers who bring drug traffickers to justice. You are the doctors, nurses, and counselors who give struggling citizens the hope and solace and strength to build a brighter and brighter future. And you are the families and faith communities who help thousands of Americans overcome addiction for a new life of freedom.
My administration is deploying every resource at our disposal to empower you, to support you, and to fight right by your side. And that’s what we’re doing.
We will not solve this epidemic overnight, but we will stop — there’s just nothing going to stop us, no matter how you cut it. I know some of the people in this room. Nothing stops you. Nothing stops you, I can tell you.
We will never stop until our job is done, and then maybe we’ll have to find something new. And I hope that’s going to be soon. But we will succeed. We have results that are unbelievable; numbers that I heard, two weeks ago, that I was shocked to hear. We’re making tremendous progress.
Each year, more than 70,000 precious American lives are lost to the opioid and drug crisis. And, in my opinion, the number is much higher than that.
To protect all Americans, my administration declared the opioid epidemic a nationwide public health emergency. A big step. Since then, we have secured a record $6 billion in new funding to combat the opioid crisis, and that’s the most ever. And we’re going for even bigger numbers this year. (Applause.)
Last year, we provided $90 million to prevent youth substance abuse, and I signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act — the largest-ever legislative effort to combat a single drug crisis in our nation’s history. It’s the largest ever.
Following the recommendation of my Surgeon General and many others, last year the distribution of the overdose-reversing drug, naloxone, increased by over one million units. Pretty amazing stuff.
To expand access to treatment, recovery, and other crucial activities and services, all throughout our nation we have given opioid response grants to states, totaling a record $2 billion.
We are now allowing states to use Medicaid funds to pay for residential treatment facilities, and they’re being built all over the country. In my first year in office, the number of patients receiving medication-assisted treatment at community health centers increased by 64 percent. No other President did that. No other President. We have no choice. We have no choice. (Applause.)
We passed the CRIB Act to expand treatment for mothers and their babies who are born physically dependent on opioids.
For our nation’s veterans, we are improving pain management, with over 43,000 fewer veterans on opioids since January 2017. Think of that — 43,000. (Applause.) [DEL: Twenty-three thousand :DEL] [Forty-three thousand].
And, by the way, for the veterans, 45 years they’ve been trying to get it. As you know, just recently, I signed Veterans Choice, where a veteran can go, and if the wait is going to be days or weeks or months — which it used to be — they go out and see a private doctor. (Applause.) Take immediate care. We pay for it. We take care of it. And it’s been an incredible — it’s new and it’s been incredible, the difference it’s made.
And just months ago, I signed bipartisan criminal justice reform into law. (Applause.) Among other critical changes, the FIRST Step Act provides addiction treatment to Americans in prison.
And I’m pleased to report that, in just four months, more than 16,000 inmates are participating in new drug treatment. (Applause.) And criminal justice reform — I have to say, people are getting out of prison. And since our founding, they were having an impossible time getting a job. But because our economy is doing so well, perhaps the best it’s ever been in our history — best unemployment numbers in history, best everything. Because of this — (applause) — because of this, prisoners getting out are signing in; they’re getting jobs. And I can tell you that those employers — because I speak to a lot of them — are thrilled. They had no idea. I’m so proud of that.
So, the great economy has made it much easier. They get out, and then they have to prove themselves. They never got a chance to prove themselves. Now they prove themselves, and they are doing a spectacular job. Not all of them, but there’s nothing “all” about any of us. But they are doing a spectacular job.
So I want to thank all of you. And I want to thank — Congressman, I want to thank you for helping me with that, because you were very instrumental. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
The Department of Labor is expanding federal efforts to help recovering Americans find a great job in our soaring economy.
As a result of our historic economic boom also, we are lifting up all Americans from all walks of life, including those who have endured the pain of addiction. They’re getting a second and third and, in some cases, a fourth chance. And they’re making it. They’re making it. And they really have something to live for. Some of them say, “We love getting up in the morning. We love going to work. We love our job.” And if they don’t like the job because of what’s happened, it’s a miracle. All over the world, they’re talking about what’s happened with our economy. If they don’t like their job, they have choice also, like the vets. They have choice. It’s choice of going out and finding a different job that they like better. Big impact.
Last year, a record 73 percent of the new jobs went to people who were out of the workforce and are now coming back to work for the first time in many years. (Applause.) And these newly employed citizens are joining 5.5 million more workers who have found jobs since the election, driving our national unemployment rate to its lowest level in 51 years.
And, as you know, and you’ve heard me say it, African American unemployment: lowest in the history of our country. Asian American unemployment: lowest in the history of our country. Hispanic American unemployment: lowest in the history of our country.
People that graduate without a high school diploma — it’s a big group — lowest in the history of our country. Women — sorry — lowest in 61 years. (Laughter.) But we’ll soon have the record. (Applause.) We will soon have the record. We’re going to have that record, too.
We’re all Americans. We are all one family. And we know that we are strongest when no one is left behind.
My administration is committed to ensuring that every citizen can live with dignity and purpose and proudly pursue the American Dream.
Critical to this effort is my administration’s strong support for faith-based initiatives. (Applause.) America is a nation that believes in the power of prayer and the strength of fellowship, and we believe in the grace of God. And we’re proud of it. (Applause.)
Here with us today is Dr. Monty Burks. Nineteen years ago, Monty turned his life around when two women of prayer from his hometown church helped him to get on a path to recovery. Now Monty works for Tennessee’s — what a great state — Department of Mental Health and is Director of their Faith-Based Recovery Initiative.
Monty, please, come up and tell us a little bit about your work. (Applause.)
DR. BURKS: In awe, honor, and humbled. The opposite of addiction is relationship. That simple equation is what helped me find my freedom. Criminal justice intervention led me to treatment, which led me to recover, which put me on this podium.
I’ve been blessed to serve under Commissioner Williams — and Commissioner Varney past before. They took a chance on a broken and bruised person who had been touched by the system, but they knew that I had a purpose, and my purpose was to use the pain that I’d went through to help other people not have to go through the same thing that I’d went through.
You see, recovery is real. We do recover. We do recover. (Applause.) To me, the paradigm shifts with the faith community. Our governor, Bill Lee, supports the faith-based community being the catalyst to change, to control the narrative, to explain how people and recovery can come back and be fruitful and change the paradigm themselves, in their own communities. (Applause.)
Employers trust the faith community. We go back to work not just for a job but for a career, so we can go back and lead as peers so those who were behind us crying in the wilderness will have a second chance to stand before a podium like this and tell you that, yes, recovery is real. We do recover. (Applause.)
Secretary Azar, I want to thank you for your work with HHS and the Office of Faith-Based with Shannon Royce and Heidi. And they spread the word and the message about faith-based recovery and treatment across the state. Today, this is my pulpit, and I have to say this: Someone in a program hears me right now and says, “I can, because you did. I can, because he did.” That’s right. Yes, you can. Look in the mirror. There is your miracle.
I want to thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me this space to stand beside you. I want to thank God for you and the First Lady and your support of the recovery community. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Wow, that’s great, Monty. And he had this beautiful speech written down in his iPhone — this is the new way of doing it — (laughter) — and he never looked at it once. (Laughter.) That’s a pretty good job. Thank you very much, Monty. Appreciate it. Fantastic.
My administration has also embarked on an unprecedented effort to shut down online criminal networks, crack down on illegal international shipments, and stop the deadly flow of drugs into our country.
In the past two years, Customs and Border Protection seizures of meth, and cocaine, and heroin, and fentanyl at the southern border are up 45 percent and going up much higher. We are seizing it all over. You probably saw the numbers today. We are detaining, capturing — call it anything you want — more people than ever before. Some of those people are not people we want in our country.
And I will say Border Patrol has been incredible. There’s never been a march up that border like there is today, up throughout Mexico. Mexico is starting to detain and bring back to their country, where they came from. But a lot of it is drugs, and drugs are being gotten by us. We are stopping the drug flow as much as we can. Soon, we’re going to have a wall that’s going to be a very powerful wall. It’s under construction. The media doesn’t like talking about it. (Applause.) The media doesn’t like talking about it. It’s one of many things we’re doing.
But when that wall is finished, we intend to have almost 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. We’re probably ahead of schedule a little bit. That’ll have a tremendous impact on drugs coming into our country.
And we have many other things, including the finest equipment that that you can buy. Hundreds of millions of dollars of the best drug detection equipment you can have. And I always say this: Because as good as that equipment is — and it’s genius — the greatest equipment in the world is a dog. (Applause.) Dogs — a certain type of German Shepherd in particular. Dogs do a better job than 400 million dollars’ worth of equipment. Can you believe that? Only the dog lover would understand that, right? (Applause.) No, it’s true.
I said to the Border Patrol the other day — they were giving me a little bit of a rundown on the equipment. And, you know, it’s hundreds — we’re close to 500 million dollars’ worth of equipment at the ports of entry. I said, “How does this compare to those great dogs I saw?” They say, “Sir, honestly, the dogs are better.” (Laughter.) I said, “You got to be kidding.” It’s incredible, and they showed me, and it’s actually incredible. But we also have a lot of dogs, and they’re great dogs, and we cherish them.
Heroin alone kills 300 Americans a week, 90 percent of which enters our country through our southern border. We’re doing everything to empower ourselves so that we can keep this poison out of our communities and away from our children. You’re going to see some very, very big differences in the coming months. We’re capturing people that you wouldn’t believe.
And if you remember, when I announced that famous run, when I came down — I’m sure nobody saw this. When I came down the escalator with Melania and her white dress — I don’t think anybody saw that — (laughter) — but I made a very strong statement about the border and I was criticized. They said, “Oh, it’s not that bad.” Well, let me tell you, that statement was peanuts compared to reality. Peanuts. It was small-time, compared to reality.
But we are confronting reality and confronting the grave security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border. And that’s why I’ve declared a national emergency, which is exactly what it is. (Applause.)
And we’ve secured historic funding to strengthen border security, including the equipment, including the wall, including more Border Patrol agents — including many other things that you don’t even have to know about and some you don’t want to know about.
Congress must also act to fix, however, our horrible, obsolete, weak, pathetic immigration laws. (Applause.) We could solve the entire problem — I say “45 minutes,” but it could go a lot quicker than that; let’s bring it down to 15 minutes — if the Democrats would agree to do certain basic, commonsense things with respect to our laws.
And I do think that there’s pressure being put on them, and I think that some of them really do want to do the right thing. I’ve spoken to some recently, and you might be surprised at what’s going to happen. But they see what’s going on at the border. It’s very easy to see. And they’re seeing the drugs and they’re seeing the human trafficking. The human trafficking has — it’s like never before in our history. And this is a world problem, and it’s happening all over the world, but for us, it’s through the southern border.
Today, we’re grateful to be joined by Virginia State Police Senior Special Agent Tom Murphy, who has been chasing down drug traffickers for decades. In recent years, he has seen a surge of cheap heroin being trafficked from Mexico, which is now being laced with ultra-lethal fentanyl.
Tragically, a year and a half ago, Special Agent Murphy’s own son died from an overdose of this kind of deadly drug. And it is deadly.
Special Agent Murphy, America’s heart breaks for you and for all of the families that have suffered so needlessly. No other family should have to experience the pain and the sorrow that you’ve endured.
Would you please come up to say a few words? Please, Special Agent. Thank you. (Applause.)
SPECIAL AGENT MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. President and First Lady, for this time and opportunity to speak. Both professionally and personally, Hal has touched my life and my family’s life.
I worked for the State Police of Virginia for 31 years, assigned to a narcotics division drug enforcement section for 23 of those 31 years. I sat in your seat four years ago, at this same conference. While I was here four years ago, my son Jason was battling drug addiction.
His story is one that’s all too common today. He grew up with ADD, depression, and was medicated at a young age. Prior to 18 years old, he started self-medicating with marijuana. He knew at 18 years old he had to move out of the house because Dad is Dad, and Dad is a police officer, and you can’t do that at home.
Well, on his 18th birthday — on the day he turned 18 — he moved out of our home. He would later tell me it’s the worst decision he’s ever made in his life.
When he did so, about a year or two later, he had a work-related injury where he severed four fingers from his hand. He was introduced to opioids, which was my greatest fear. I would see him around town, and my wife — you could his physical decline. He’d been arrested a couple of times for possession and distribution to continue his habit.
Twelve days before Christmas — (applause) — December 13th, 2017, 12 days before Christmas, he passed away of a heroin and fentanyl overdose.
People talk about stigma associated with opioids, heroin, drugs. There is a stigma, and the stigma needs to stop. (Applause.)
If you want to think about stigma, think about a family that’s been though it professionally and personally. And my family has. And that’s only one family of 70,000 in 2017 who lost a loved one because of opioids and heroin.
The stigma needs to stop. You need to share your story. I wear two bracelets every day since my son’s death. On my right wrist is a purple bracelet to honor those who have fallen from drug overdose. It has his name on it and date and birth and date of death. On my left wrist, I have two: Thin Blue Line and I’ve got another one that simply states, “Every overdose is someone’s child. Don’t judge. Educate.” (Applause.)
So that’s why we’re here and that’s why you’re here. You took the first initiative, maybe, if you’re here for the first time, to collaborate, to brainstorm, to strategize, to figure out this problem collectively. But the message I want to convey today is: Don’t judge. There are 70,000 different stories that happened in 2017. You heard my son’s. His name was Matthew Jason Murphy. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. You know, I think I can say with surety that your son, your boy, is looking down right now at you and he’s very proud of his father. Very, very proud. Thank you. (Applause.)
We are making great progress to stop fentanyl from coming into our communities. As a result of my negotiations with President Xi of China — doing a very big trade deal — they’ve announced that next week they will implement new measures to prevent Chinese fentanyl — which is most of it; almost all fentanyl comes from China — from being shipped to the United States. (Applause.)
And furthermore — and I appreciate this, from President Xi — they’ve agreed that they’re going to make it a major crime. It’s not a crime now. It’s down as an industrial drug. And they’re going to make it a crime, and they’re going to charge people with the highest level of crime. And, in China, unlike in our country, the highest level of crime is very, very high. It’s the ultimate. You pay the ultimate price. So I appreciate that very much.
Since I signed the STOP Act into law, our amazing Customs and Border Protection officers have stopped over six times more packages from reaching American doorsteps. It’s a big deal.
Right here, in Georgia, Customs and Border Protection officers at the seaport in Savannah recently discovered an estimated 19 million dollars’ worth of cocaine in a shipment of Colombian pineapples.
Today, we’re proud to be joined by two officers who helped find those deadly drugs: James Long and Derrick Nobles. And thank you both for your courageous work. Where are you, folks? Where are you? Come on. Come on up here. Come up. (Applause.) Please.
OFFICER LONG: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you all for having us here, first of all. And again, thank you for all your support. It’s been a — it’s been a long road, and we’re glad to have the President behind us. I’m glad to have you all behind us on the law enforcement side and the community itself, because you all are our biggest help with finding this. It’s like finding a needle in the haystack, on most days.
But again, thank you all every day for your support. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you both very much. Great job. So many incredible people that I’ve met doing exactly what you’re doing.
To all of the Customs and Border Protection officers, DEA agents, and state and local law enforcement that are here today: We love you, we support you, and we are with you all the way. All the way. (Applause.)
You know, we had billions of dollars of military equipment, which the previous administration, for their own reason, was not willing to give up to law enforcement. And I decided that we will. This was beautiful, great, strong, powerful equipment, safety equipment. You know exactly what I’m talking about. And we gave billions and billions of dollars throughout the United States to law enforcement.
And it’s had a tremendous impact because — I don’t know if it’s for that reason. Probably not. It’s probably because of the great men and women involved. But the numbers are way down. Crime — way down. So, thank you all very much. Appreciate it. (Applause.)
My administration is also taking aggressive action to reduce the over-supply of highly addictive prescription drugs.
The Department of Justice has prosecuted more than 3,000 defendants in cases involving opioids. And earlier this week, the United States filed criminal charges against the sixth- largest drug wholesaler for illicit distribution of opioids — (applause) — because we are holding big pharma accountable. They should be accountable. (Applause.) And they didn’t give to my campaign. I don’t want their money. (Laughter.) They gave to a lot of other campaigns; that’s the problem. But we are holding them — I couldn’t care less. They’ve got to do what’s right. Doing a lot of things.
We’re also working very strong on drug pricing. It’s coming way down. For the first time — (applause) — for the first time in 54 years, drug prices went down this year. They went down a little below even. That’s a big thing. First time in 54 years. And I give great credit to you, Alex, for that. You and your whole group of wonderful people. Alex was a very, very successful executive at one of the biggest of the companies, and he understood the system better than anybody. And we’re lucky to have him. He has done an incredible job. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Many drug companies are giving European countries a better deal than they give their own country. And that has to stop. We’ve already informed them that’s stopping. We are making sure that our great seniors on Medicare will share in the discounts given to other countries. (Applause.) And you know what that means. The sophisticates out there that do this for a living, you know exactly — that’s a big deal. Sounds like big deal, but it really is a big deal.
At long last, we’re stopping the drug companies and foreign countries from rigging the system — I know all about the rigging the system because I had the system rigged on me. (Laughter and applause.) I think you know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, that will be your sound bite tonight, but that’s okay. (Laughter.) System was rigged. But rigging the system against our great seniors.
And to help doctors and scientists develop non-addictive painkillers, we have nearly doubled funding for opioid and pain research. Thank you very much, Doctor. Come on. Stand. (Applause.) He gives away more money than any human being on Earth. Thank you. Great. Such an important — if we can find that answer, that’s going to be a big — that’s going to solve most of the problem, I suspect. How close are we? (Laughter.)
He’s saying, “Okay.” (Laughter.) You’ll get it. You’ll get it.
One year ago, we pledged to cut nationwide opioid prescriptions by one-third. Already during my time in office, we have reduced the total amount of opioid prescribed by 34 percent. That’s a pretty amazing number. (Applause.) Pretty amazing.
And I’m glad to report today that drug overdose deaths are down in the various states that we polled and checked — the ones hardest hit by the opioid crisis: New Hampshire, West Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. And they’re very steeply down in three of those cases. An amazing achievement.
When I campaigned in those states, that was the biggest thing. And nobody would think it. Unless you’re really involved, nobody would think it.
Over the last two years, our National Prescription Drug Take Back Days have collected nearly 3.7 million pounds of prescription drugs. That’s seven times the weight of Air Force One — a very nice plane that’s parked about 10 minutes away. (Laughter.) A very, very big, big, heavy plane. Think of that: seven times. And the next drug take back day is this Saturday. (Applause.) It’s great.
And finally, we know one of the most important steps to ending the opioid crisis is to prevent young people from ever using drugs in the first place. (Applause.) Our massive public awareness campaign about the horrific suffering that drugs inflict has already reached 58 percent of young Americans.
Where’s Kellyanne? Kellyanne, stand up. Kellyanne Conway. She’s done a great job. (Applause.) I keep saying, “Kellyanne, where are those ads?” Because, you know, if you do it properly — and we’ve had some great ones, great ads — young people looking at these ads, they won’t start. I think, in many ways, you don’t see the result for four or five years, but in many ways, that’s one of the most important things we can be doing. So we’re doing that and we’re spending a lot of money on that. I think it’s very important.
When they look out, and somebody comes to them and wants to sell them drugs and they start thinking about what they just saw on television, or wherever they may have seen it, it’s going to be a little harder for them to make that sale, and that’s okay with me. It’s the way we want it. (Applause.)
And I’m very encouraged that in my first year in office, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 100,000 fewer teens started abusing prescription painkillers. One hundred thousand.
Here with us today is Alex Elswick and his mom — wonderful mom — Shelley. As a young adult, Alex overcame addiction and is now — with his mom, they founded an organization to help families in crisis.
Alex and Shelley, would you come up and share your story? Thank you. Please. (Applause.)
MR. ELSWICK: Well, good afternoon.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Go Cats!
MR. ELSWICK: (Laughs.) Go Cats.
My name is Alex Elswick, and I’m a person in long-term recovery. (Applause.) And many of you already knew that, but perhaps what you didn’t know is that this is my mom. And we’re a family in long-term recovery. (Applause.)
And I could tell you all about how my addiction was “Groundhog Day” in hell — lived over and over and over again. But we’ve heard enough of death and destruction for a few years now. I’d rather tell you how grateful I am to be here and how grateful I am that I get to work every day alongside my mom and my friend, Amanda Fallin-Bennett, doing the work with Voices of Hope to help people in recovery stay in recovery.
And I’d like to use this time to say a big “thank you” to every single individual in this room who works tirelessly every day to improve the lives of people like me. Because Monty said it best: We do recover and we recover together.
So thank you all for being voices of hope. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: And thank you both. As Alex and Shelley remind us, our greatest resource in the fight against drugs is the heart and the might and the soul of the American people.
We will prevail because of the courage, commitment, and compassion of heroes like all of you in this room today. You’re incredible people. You are America’s true source of strength.
So let us resolve that, together, we will support, cherish and care for our fellow citizens through every step and every challenge on their road to recovery.
We will reach out to anyone who is hurting or lost or struggling, because every American deserves to know the glory of hope, the joy of belonging, and the blessings of healing.
We will stand proudly behind our devoted doctors and nurses and medical professionals who work so hard, and they do so much.
We will honor and celebrate the incredible men and women of law enforcement. Thank you. We love our law enforcement. (Applause.) I don’t know if you know it, but over the last two and half years, law enforcement has become hot. They were having a little problem, right? But they’re hot. People are loving their law enforcement more than ever before because we respect you at the highest level. (Applause.) We respect you. And the job you do is incredible — and dangerous — but it’s incredible.
We will strive to give every child a loving home, and every home a thriving future. We will renew the bonds of family and faith that link us together as citizens, as patriots, and as Americans. We will not let up. We will not give in. And we will never, ever give up on saving American lives. (Applause.)
We will end this terrible menace. We will smash the grip of addiction. We will make our cities safe, our communities strong, and our future brighter than ever before.
As one united nation, we will work, we will pray, and we will fight for the day when every family across our land can live in a drug-free America. (Applause.)
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
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