Activist Chris Herren returns to Souderton

The former Boston Celtics player returned to Souderton to talk to students about his past drug addiction.

Sharing his own story, former NBA star Chris Herren returned to Souderton on December 4 for his second visit in two years. Herren’s story of his former drug use teaches students a lesson about making good choices.
“We got lucky, a private donor said they wanted to do this and we said yes,” Athletic Director Dennis Stanton said. “I’ve seen Chris [Herren] speak five times before he came to Souderton, and I know students can find value in it. So we said let’s give it a shot.”
Herren’s first visit at Souderton was in the spring of 2018.
“I honestly had no idea who he was, his story, or anything about him,” junior Emma Groatman said.
According to Basketball Reference, Herren was born September 27, 1975 in Fall River, Massachusetts.
He attended B.M.C Durfee High School, where his basketball career started to take off. Herren was a point guard through his college career of basketball, starting off at Boston college. 19-year-old Herren only played one game until he transferred to Fresno State when he was 21 years old after being kicked out of Boston College. Herren played a total of 32 games durings first season at Fresno State, and a total of 86 games from 1996 to 1999.
Throughout his post college career, Herren played one year for the Denver Nuggets until he was later traded to the Boston Celtics in 2000. After suffering a season-ending injury while playing for the Celtics, Herren went on to play in several other countries such as Italy, Poland, Turkey, China and Iran, a stated on Herren Talks Site.
Herren had it all, except the ability to quit his “buzz word” habit.
“I started getting drunk off my dads miller lites at 13 years old,” Herren said.
According to CNN US, Herren did his first line of cocaine when he was 18 years old.
“The visine would come out and the gum out go in,” Herren said. “In high school I did everything to cover up my mistakes.”
Ingesting cocaine in any manner will raise your level of alertness and attention, according to Web MD. The drug sends high levels of dopamine throughout the body, causing intense energy. Short term effects include extreme sensitivity to touch, sound, or sight, intense happiness, anger, or paranoia.
The short term effects were no huge issue to Herren when he started his cocaine addiction. It was the long term effects, such as *seizures and *lung damage, that put a weight on Herren’s career.
“I never thought I would have to hide an addiction from my mother,” Herren said. “I felt like I was turning into my father, someone I didn’t want to be.”
Herren later moved on to an addiction to opioids (pain medication), including OxyContin and Vicodin. The use of these specific opioids produces short term effects such as feelings of calm, sleepiness, or confusion, stated in The Body’s Response to Opioids. After a grown addiction to OxyContin and Vicodin, Herren started another addiction to a more powerful opioid drug commonly known as heroin.
Heroin is considered an illegal opioid drug made from morphine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Heroin is typically injected through the arm with a needle, snorted or smoked. The components in heroin enter the brain rapidly, binding to opioid receptors on cells controlling heart rate, sleeping and breathing.
When heroin enters the body, it’s sending morphine to the brain. The excess morphine in the brain will cause damage to the respiratory system, leading to possible cardiac arrest.
“Wherever my veins were, the needles went,” Herren said. “And it still shows 12 years later.”
In June 2004, Herren suffered a Heroin overdose. While driving, Herren’s body shut down and he steered off-road into a utility pole. Paramedics on scene said Herren was pronounced dead for 30 seconds.
After years of recovery, Herren wanted to spread his message to others. Herren’s overdose is what he described as a “wake up call” to make a change.
“He’s a great speaker and his message is powerful,” Stanton said. “He’s a good storyteller and he certainly has a story to tell.”
Herren has traveled to many high schools across the country to share his story with students, some who could already be in his situation. He acts as a helping hand to others who struggle to ask for help.
The Herren Project, a non-profit organization established by Herren, was founded in 2011 to support those affected by substance use disorder. As stated on the Herren Project website, over 4,000 students have reached out to the Herren Project for help after hearing Herren Speak.
“It really made me consider that maybe my friends could be dealing with something like this and it’s not as rare as you think it is,” Groatman said. “It reminds me how lucky I am that I don’t have to experience a [situation] like this every day. You really don’t know someone’s story just by looking at them.”
If you are suffering or know someone who is suffering, contact The Herren Project at 844-543-8555 or email them at [email protected].