Opioid addicts share their stories at recovery conference

Posted: Updated:
JERSEY CITY -

Recovering opioid addicts shared their experiences Thursday at a recovery conference organized by former Gov. Jim McGreevey.

The speakers at the conference spoke about the despair of opioid addiction and the need for better treatment and justice reform.

Rich Wilder says that he was addicted to heroin for 25 years and that he had to resort to a life of crime to pay for it.

“I was going through $400-$500 a day,” he says. “This last time I was arrested for a bank robbery in Jackson, New Jersey.”

Wilder went to prison for his crimes and was able to get treatment for his addiction. He says that he has been clean since 2014.

Recovering addict Patrick Garrison, also spoke at the conference about his recovery. He says that better mental health treatment is the best way to fight the drug crisis. Statistics show that opioid addiction claimed more than 2,200 lives in the Garden State in 2016.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato says that opioid-related deaths dropped 25 percent in the county last year due to improved follow-up care.

“That continuum, as they go through and they track that individual, your outcomes rise and that's what you have to be looking for,” Coronato says.

The conference focused on alternatives to sending addicts to jail for drug offenses. New Jersey's attorney general called for municipal drug courts to get addicts into treatment earlier.

  • New Jersey SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
  • Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
  • Guide: New Jersey Breweries

    Guide: New Jersey Breweries

    Looking to check out brewery this summer? There are many breweries across the state for beer-lovers to visit. Check out our list for breweries in your area. 

    Looking to check out brewery this summer? There are many breweries across the state for beer-lovers to visit. Check out our list for breweries in your area. 

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."