Chris Herren continues to change the conversation surrounding substance abuse
November 17, 2022
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Chris Herren, a former NBA Celtics player turned motivational speaker, spoke at an all school assembly about his struggle with addiction and the danger of substance abuse.
Herren returned to speak to York students after three years due to the pandemic. Since 2009, he has used his platform to advocate against substance abuse to students, professional athletes, and communities. Herren’s objective is to change the conversation about substance abuse by focusing on the start rather than the aftermath.
“We look at the worst day instead of the first day,” Herren said. “Understand if that’s how you see drug addiction, you’re already putting yourself at risk.”
Herren also believes that a huge part of changing the conversation revolves around why people begin abusing substances in the first place.
“We all have our why. What’s amazing is that parents never ask that,” Herren said.
York students like junior Will Blanchette agreed that this would be a positive change in the conversation surrounding substance abuse.
“I think it’s a very realistic way to look at it,” Blanchette said. “When most people think of drug addicts, they think of the very late stage when it’s very clear from physical appearance. People don’t really talk about how slippery of a slope it is to become addicted and depend upon substances.”
The subject matter of this assembly is very serious, and Herren takes it as such. A few York students began to talk to their friends and giggle while he was speaking, and he called them out.
“You can sit there and giggle, but this is a chance to look at yourself,” Herren said. “You dismiss this out of insecurity.”
Assistant Principal Adam Roubitchek addressed how York students responded, and that their reactions are exactly why York students need to hear from people who struggle with addiction.
“I think some of the disrespect [is because] people aren’t ready to hear it,” Roubitchek said. “Sometimes you hear somebody talking about something and you’re like, ‘oh, that isn’t me’, but I think whether it sinks in now or a year from now, that message is something that is going to resonate with people.”
Addiction is something that people struggle with their entire lives, even when they’re in recovery. Chris Herren is someone that is still recovering, and it is important to hear his story in order to prevent future tragedies.
“I think he’s got a fascinating story, but, more importantly, the guy is 100% authentic,” Roubitchek said. “He wasn’t giving us a polished presentation, he was speaking from the heart. I think that speaks to human beings a lot more than having a flashy video or catchphrases. You can see as he talks that he’s still struggling. He wants to save everybody. I think that resonates.”