This week Venessa Vitolo shares her story of once living as a cheerleader in a wholesome neighborhood and family to being homeless and addicted to heroin. After finding her pathway or recovery, she quickly moved into state and national levels advocacy through participating in speaking engagements and panel discussions for a variety of organizations, such as TEDx, HLN, The Hill, and ReachNJ. Recently she shared her views on addiction and recovery with the President and his cabinet at the White House.
Vanessa Vitolo is the Outreach Coordinator at Victory Bay Recovery Center,
victorybayrecovery.com, in Laurel Springs, N.J., and volunteers as a Recovery Advocate. She
has dedicated her life, both professionally and personally, to help others by sharing her
story of addiction and recovery. Vanessa draws on her experiences as a recovering addict to
offer a message of hope, reduce the stigma of addiction, and to advocate for change that
can positively impact the national Opioid crisis.
As a Recovery Advocate, Vanessa participates in speaking engagements and panel
discussions for a variety of organizations, such as TEDx, HLN, The Hill, and ReachNJ. Recently
she shared her views on addiction and recovery with the President and his cabinet at the
She is also committed to community outreach and often volunteers with organizations that
focus on recovery including Integrity House in Newark, N.J.
Vanessa grew up in a tight-knit family in a small South Jersey community where she was a
good student, a cheerleader, and had many friends. She graduated high school and went on
to college, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from West Virginia
Vanessa’s addiction started with painkillers prescribed to treat an old injury. Eventually, she
started using heroin, an addiction that spanned six years. She became isolated from family
and friends, was homeless, and wound up in jail. The path to recovery was hard and filled
with challenges, but Vanessa was committed to changing her life, something she achieved
with the help of family, a strong support system, and Drug Court.
Today, Vanessa tells her story to offer hope for recovery and to serve as a voice for those
who are struggling every day with addiction.