Chris Herren Speaks in the PAC

Morgan Carpenter, Co-Writing Editor

He had it all.
Acceptance into Boston College, membership on the Celtics basketball team.
It dissipated with a few failed drug tests and an overdose that left him declared dead for 30 seconds.
Now, he spends his time pleading with each new generation to just please, please stop “chasing death for a feeling.”

Chris Herren visited Wando March 23. He’s toured over 250 schools per year in the past seven years. At first, he told his story at each one. How he’s OD’ed several times, accumulated seven drug-related felonies and eventually worked towards sobriety. He’s been clean seven years and now, and he tells the stories of others who have struggled – other kids.

“Just like you, I walked into this talk with the attitude: all I do is drink and smoke…I’ll never ever be like that. That attitude I believe comes from the way we’ve irresponsibly presented addiction to kids over the years,” Herren said in a talk to students in the PAC that was broadcast throughout the school. “I think we put way too much focus on the worst day and we forget to look at the first day.”

Herren’s speech urged how easy it is to fall down a rabbit hole of dangerous substances when you approach any drug with nonchalance.

“I never heard one friend say, drunk at the end of the night, I never heard one friend on the ride home, shoving Visie in his eyes, I can’t wait to stick that needle in my arm man. I can’t wait to get kicked out of Coulbima, Syracuse, Boston College,” he said. “That never came up amongst my friends. That conversation never happened around a keg.”

Herren encouraged students to truly take a look at themselves.

“You’re not even close to being the kid your family thinks you are, you’re not even being close to the kid I grew up with. You’re not even the kid you wanted to be. And yet, you act like it’s no big deal,” he said. “And if you can honestly sit in here and think about the kid you grew up with that doesn’t spend their mommy’s money on drugs, that doesn’t steal from their parents medicine cabinet, that doesn’t have to get drunk or high to hang out with the friends that they’ve known since they were five, can you honestly say to yourself you don’t see them in the hallway and think — how come she doesn’t have to do this to herself? How come he’s all right without it?”

To students who either know someone who is struggling or are struggling themselves, Herren said that speaking out is the first step.
“To have the courage to say I have a friend that is like going real drk on me and I want to help them…If you can honestly think that swallowing something that kills you is partying, you need to talk to somebody,” he said. “You really need to address the issue when you take it to the point you’re swallowing things that kill you.”

Herren, along with his foundation “Project Purple” aims to help those struggling to achieve sobriety by providing free access to recovery resources and by raising awareness. Herren emphasizes how slippery of a slope underestimating drugs or alcohol can be.
“You have no idea what you’re playing with,” Herren said. “And how fast things can change, at the cost of your life and everyone who loves you.”