Lexington man shares stage with President Trump at prescription drug abuse summit in Atlanta

ATLANTA (WKYT) - A Lexington man shared the stage with President Donald Trump to tell his story of addiction and recovery at a drug abuse summit in Atlanta.

The two men spoke at the National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit on Wednesday.

Crowds packed the biggest conference room in Atlanta to see President Trump speak on cleaning up the drug epidemic.

"We know we are the best when we work together," said Trump.

The president spoke for about an hour touting his administration's work to slow the epidemic by stopping drugs from coming across the Mexican border.

He also emphasized the administration's efforts to prevent fentanyl from entering the U.S. from China.

A panel of speakers, sitting to the side of the President and the First Lady, told powerful stories of a father's loss and young Kentuckians redemption.

Alex Elswick is a Kentuckian in long-term recovery. He shared his story to the crowd and wanted to be a voice of hope.
The president also brought up faith-based initiatives.
Kentucky's Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley says, in the Commonwealth , 90% of those with substance abuse disorder relapse.

"If they're non-violent, non-cronic, non-sexual offenders who pose little risk to society, why would we treat them behind a prison wall", asked Secretary Tilley.

Tilley says too many are in prison because of addiction. He believes they should be in treatment instead.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the United States has seen drug overdose deaths skyrocket in the last decade.

Over 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. In 1999, 17,000 Americans died.