Chris Christie Holds Candlelight Vigil To Support Drug Addicts

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New Jersey governor Chris Christie helped bring 2016 to a close by holding a candlelight vigil in support of anyone impacted by drug addiction.

NJ.com reported that Christie led the vigil at the Statehouse on Wednesday (Dec. 21) as part of the sixth Season of Service, Giving the Gift of Support. The governor was given a rousing welcome by hundreds of attendees before speaking as he stood alongside people currently in recovery and families who have lost loved ones to their disease. As he has for the past seven years, Christie remained adamant that addicts can get well if given the proper resources and support.

“I will not stand for the idea that any soul is irredeemable,” said Christie. “Everyone has the ability to fight back from this disease, but we have to give them the tools to do it.”

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey, who now helps ex-offenders in his role as director of the non-profit New Jersey Reentry Cooperation, praised Christie for his efforts around drug addiction. McGreevey told the crowd that “Gov. Christie has done more through legislation, more through his leadership to address the tragedy and the pain and the suffering of addiction than any governor in the history of this state.”

Christie is currently running radio ads through Dec. 31 that encourage people to call 211, the state’s addiction support hotline. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He has also continued to put out forward-thinking measures in addressing drug addiction throughout New Jersey. Last October, Christie announced that inmates at Ocean County Jail would be given access to Vivitrol both during and after their incarceration. He also added six more counties to the state’s Recovery Coach program, which has former addicts encourage those who recently survived an overdose to enter a rehab or detox program. Christie had previously increased naloxone access for emergency personnel and law enforcement officials.

His initatives have largely stemmed from his belief that the current War on Drugs has been unsuccessful. Christie has remained a staunch advocate for drug treatment over prison and believes that it’s not possible for law enforcement to punish their way through the epidemic.

“I think what we’ve seen over the last 30 years is that it just hasn’t worked,” he said in December 2014. We need to treat it as a disease. And not having mandatory incarceration for non-violent offenders, but having mandatory treatment is something that’s going to yield a much greater result for society in general, and for those individuals in particular.”