Chris Herren had the kind of career trajectory athletes that dream of. He went from being a college legend to playing for the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets. But Herren suffered from addiction for fourteen years, and he told CNN, “I did my first line of cocaine at 18, and it took 14 years to stop.”
With Herren, addiction started at home, and he recalls, “I grew up in a family that suffered from alcoholism…We all get sick in this process. Family members have broken hearts, and people who are suffering have broken souls. That person suffering is going to walk out into the arms of family members, and we need them to be as healthy as possible to support them.”
Herren’s addiction transitioned from cocaine to Vicodin to heroin, and his basketball career was over by 2006. He hit bottom when he wound up clinically dead from on overdose for thirty seconds. With the help of his wife and a close friend in the NBA, Herren got help. “They reached out to me and gave me the greatest gift any family could give someone, a chance to get well,” Herren says.
Like many in recovery, Herren wants to pay it forward, and he’s been helping others suffering from addiction since 2011. “My whole purpose with this is to break the stigma [with addiction], and eliminate the rock bottoms.”
In helping others, Herren wants to make sure that today’s generation has the support they need when they’re facing down addiction. “There’s not enough support for those kids who want to make the right choice,” he says. “The scariest thing about kids, the scariest thing about addiction, is nobody knows who has it.”