GLOUCESTER Twp., N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he is dedicating his remaining time in office to tackling the crisis of drug addiction.
During yesterday’s State of the State address, he shared his personal experience with a South Jersey man who is on the road to recovery.
Haddonfield native A.J. Solomon is a young entrepreneur, about to launch his first company. He is son to New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Lee Solomon and BPU Commissioner Dianne Solomon and on Tuesday, he got a shout out during Christie’s address.
“I first met A.J. when he was 11 years old,” Christie recalled. “I attended his Bar Mitzvah.”
Right out of college, Solomon got a job on Christie’s event preparation team. He appeared to have a charmed life, but Solomon had a secret. He was a full-blown heroin addict. “Most of the time, I was in full on withdraw. It was hard to get to Camden to get what I need for the day and then get to Trenton,” Solomon recalled.
He said his addiction started at age 19 when his dad got into a bike accident. “They prescribed him a ton of Oxycontin and he didn’t like the way it made him feel, but I really liked the way it made me feel. So, I did all of it and that was it. Game over.”
During college, his addiction festered privately, but afterwards living at home, his parents figured out what was going on. His options were live on the street, which he did, or go to rehab, which he also did a few times.
Finally exhausted and planning to commit suicide, he says he fell on his knees leaving an airport and cried out to God.
“People say you have to surrender to something. I just surrendered to the fact that I was what I was, and that was enough of a starting point,” he said.
Solomon completed rehab and began working in the recovery field. Now, after several years gaining experience, he plans to open an outpatient facility in Gloucester Township called the Victory Bay Recovery Center.
Solomon apologized to the governor and let him share his life story as Christie announced a series of measures to improve recovery resources during his last year in office. “I love you A.J., and I am thrilled about how you have chosen to spend the rest of your life; your long and productive life,” Christie said.
“I was just trying not to cry,” Solomon said. “Like, not that many people knew my story, so it was different for sure, but it was really humbling and gratifying.”
Solomon says that the Victory Bay Recovery Center will help about 40 to 50 people at a time and he hopes to have it open next month, which also marks for him, 3 years sober.