By Michael Hill
Gov. Chris Christie with AJ Solomon cutting the ribbon on Solomon’s Victory Bay Recovery Center in Camden County.
Solomon was a Christie advance team staffer battling an alcohol and heroin addiction. The governor gave a moving introduction of him in his January State of the State and said Solomon was the architect of his plan to attack addiction.
“Told me he would travel to north Camden on his way to the state capitol to work for me to buy his heroin for the day,” Christie said.
Today, on the first day New Jersey doctors may only prescribe a five-day supply of opiates, the governor stood shoulder to shoulder with Solomon in the opening of Victory Bay.
“AJ is an instrument of God. All the people that he and his partners hired to work here are going to be at their best moments instruments of God who have been sent to this place to make miracles happen to the people who walk in suffering. There’s nothing plainer to me after 22 years of being involved in this issue than that,” Christie said.
“If I live with resentment and fear and I’m not helping others and giving of myself, I’ll likely get miserable. And if I get miserable, I’ll likely drink. And if I drink, I’ll likely do heroin. And if I do heroin, I will likely die,” Solomon said.
Solomon is the son of state Supreme Court Justice Lee Solomon.
“I’ve never been more proud of anything or anybody in my life than I am of AJ right now,” Lee Solomon said.
AJ Solomon’s mother is a commissioner the state Board of Public Utilities. Some advice for other parents after witnessing her son’s dabbling in alcohol and then his father’s oxycodone and then years of treatment: “If they want treatment, support them in their sobriety and helping them to receive treatment. Don’t enable them, but be there when they want to get clean and support them in those efforts because that’s the only way that they’re going to make it through,” Dianne Solomon said.
The road to sobriety for AJ had many pitfalls, but he says there’s one thing that stands out that made a major difference.
“They gave up control. They said to the treatment center, ‘What do we do?’ The treatment center said, ‘Tell him you’re not going to house him, you’re not going to help him unless he’s in treatment and unless he’s sober.’ So they said, ‘Look, you’re either in treatment getting sober or you’re homeless.’ And that’s hard for a parent to do. My dad, sitting on drug court or criminal court in Camden watching kids come up, leave the court, die and he has to say that to his son? People think I’m strong or whatever. I was sick. I had to get better. I think my parents in this story are as much of the hero as anybody who recovers,” AJ said.
AJ Solomon says he’ll put some hard life lessons into Victory Bay Recovery Center’s three- to six-month treatment options.