Chris Christie has been chosen by President Trump to lead a new drug commission meant to combat drug addiction, according to a briefing released by the White House this Wednesday morning. The two leaders led what they called a “listening session” today which was attended by other government figures, including Secretary of Education Betsy Davos and other representatives from federal agencies, community groups and law enforcement. Members of the listening session also included recovering addicts and family members who have suffered losses due to addiction. Many of them told stories of addiction that progressive quickly from prescription painkillers to heroin. The new commission will look at ways to help reduce access to drugs,  include those being  brought in through mail or US borders.

The listening session also discussed the success stories that many addicts told about going to drug treatment for the first time. While some addicts got clean, however, others had stories of returning to drugs not long after. Christie said during the listening session, “…the most important thing to me is, I think the President and I both agree that addiction is a disease, and it’s a disease that can be treated, and that we need to make sure we let people know — the President talked about how folks don’t talk about it.  We talked about cancer, we talk about heart disease, we talk about diabetes, and we’re not afraid to talk about it.  But people are afraid and ashamed to talk about drug addiction.  And while they don’t talk about it, we lose lives — lives of good people. “

Chuck Rosenberg, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, also talked about a new focus on addressing the root of the problem. Accessibility is one of the easiest ways for young people to get hooked on a drug. Many of them start by stealing from a parent or grandparent who never used the pills. Said Rosenberg, “…We’ve also at the DEA now turned to education, prevention.  We talked about those things all the time. I want folks to know, if I may, sir, we do a national takeback program twice a year.  The next one is on April 29th, and people can drop off at 5,000 sites around the country — courtesy of DEA and our local partners — anything in their medicine cabinet that they don’t want.  Last year, we took in 1.6 million pounds of stuff.  It includes everything. “

Sean Spicer briefly mentioned the new drug commission and the listening session at his briefing Wednesday, telling reporters that “stopping this epidemic is an issue that every American, regardless of their political background, can and must get behind.”