Taking aim at the opioid crisis with one man's story of recovery

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The U.S. attorney's office is launching a new plan to battle the opioid crisis. It's a new documentary and public service announcement highlighting the recovery of a man from our region.

Our Dom Amato spoke with Justin Goulet about his story and how he thinks he can help others battling addiction.

Goulet grew up in White River Junction and led a successful life as a collegiate strength coach working at the University of Vermont and Norwich University. His life took a turn after an injury got him hooked on prescription pills, which then led to getting hooked on heroin.

"Most of the time when I tell people that I'm a recovering heroin addict, they don't believe me," Goulet says in the public service announcement.

Goulet lost his job and damaged the relationships in his life when he became addicted to heroin.

"The drugs were all that mattered," he said.

"You watch your child in pain and there's very little you can do about it," said Jill Lord, Goulet's mom. "You pray and pray every day and just stand by and show you love them."

Lord says she was heartbroken seeing her son struggling with addiction. She says she never gave up hope, and Goulet says in 2010, hope came in the form of a federal drug and gun conviction.

"It enabled me to finally sit and take a look at myself and it also enabled me to get options for treatment," he said.

Goulet's story will now be shared throughout the state in the form of a documentary and a PSA urging others who are struggling with addiction to get help.

"I think finally I surrendered to the process and I just tried someone else's way and that's how I got sober," Goulet said.

The drug prevention initiative was launched by U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan and her office. Nolan fights the opioid crisis every day and she knows prosecutors cannot arrest their way out of the epidemic.

"I hope it's a message of hope because he's got a story that should make everyone hopeful," Nolan said. "But I also hope it's a show of solidarity between prevention, treatment and the law enforcement community because we all have the same goal."

Goulet is ready to share his message and encourage others to get help. His mother says watching the documentary brings back a lot of memories but she hopes it encourages those struggling with addiction to take that first step to get help, just like her son did.

"I'm grateful for where we are," she said.

Goulet and Nolan plan to share the documentary with schools and recovery centers. They say prevention is key and they hope sharing a story like Goulet's with young people and others will help shed the light on the damage addiction can inflict on someone's life.

Click here to see the PSA, Face of Recovery.

Click here to see the documentary, Face of Recovery.