Former NBA star and Massachusetts legislators lend support to drug users

March 3, 2014

One of the most overlooked side effects of substance abuse is a sense of isolation that leads many who struggle with drug use to feel that there is no one to turn to for help. This sense of depression can keep many from seeking help from professional counselors at addiction treatment centers.

To combat that sense of isolation, former NBA and college basketball superstar Chris Herren is once again sharing his story of addiction and recovery to people around Massachusetts as the state experiences a spike in heroin and opiate use. Herren has partnered with lawmakers from the state legislature to advocate for wider use of medicine that can reverse the effects of overdoses. Most importantly, though, Herren is telling those struggling with substance abuse that he knows what they are going through, and that if they want it as bad as he did, their first day sober is only one day away.

Good Samaritan laws and Narcan
The Boston Globe reported on a recent appearance Herren made alongside Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) to promote new policies to help the recent increase of heroin users in the state break the hold of their addictions. Markey advocated for the wider use of the anti-overdose medicine Narcan, which, if administered in time, can save the lives of substance abusers.

“If we can get Narcan into the hands of first responders and into the hands of families, we have a real chance to do something to make sure this epidemic … is reduced and reduced dramatically,” Markey told the Globe.

Herren was a heroin, OxyContin, cocaine and pill user for years during his professional basketball career, but he would not be alive today without the help of one officer and a dose of the anti-overdose medicine.

“Narcan was administered to me and I was brought back to life,” Herren told the Globe. “What needs to be in place is beds for [substance abusers] to land on after Narcan has been administered.”

A long-fought recovery
At one point in his life, Herren was one of the most highly touted college basketball players in the country and even made it as far into the professional ranks as a starting player on the Boston Celtics in the NBA, but a life of drug use eventually caught up with him. Herren was playing basketball overseas and spending much of the money meant for his family on drugs.

However, the incredible part of Herren’s story – as chronicled by dozens of sportswriters and an ESPN documentary – is not his addiction, but his recovery.

Fox Sports reported on Herren’s long journey to sobriety and the idyllic life he now spends with his family. He runs a basketball training camp for youths and admits that his children are a major reason why he celebrated five years of sobriety in August.

“Just seeing my kids have a level of certainty that fear is gone means everything,” Herren told Fox Sports. “There is no ‘Where are we going?’ anymore. They know dad is bringing them to the right place. There’s nothing more a dad can ask for than to see that.”

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