To be part of someone else’s journey in recovery, basketball star-turned-recovery advocate Chris Herren told Treatment Center Investment & Valuation Retreat attendees on Monday, is the greatest gift one can receive.
Sober since Aug. 1, 2008, Herren shared with attendees the harrowing moments that nearly cost him his family and his life, as well as how he has turned things around and is now helping others through recovery-related projects.
On June 4, 2008, Herren suffered his fourth heroin overdose, crashing his vehicle into a cemetery. Word of Herren’s struggles spread, and Chris Mullin, another former NBA in recovery, connected Herren with a treatment center in New York that was willing to provide a six-month scholarship.
Herren's first contact with his wife while in treatment came after 40 days, at which point he learned she was about to deliver the couple’s third child. Against the advice of his counselor, Herren rushed to join his family for the birth. The emotions of the moment and seeing his children proved too much, too soon. Herren said he relapsed that night, before checking himself back into treatment, believing he had lost his family for good. After an intense, late-night meeting with his counselor, however, Herren said he went back to his room, prayed, re-engaged in treatment, and has remained sober since.
Today, Herren gives more than 250 presentations per year on substance use and recovery through Herren Talks, speaking at schools, universities, prisons and for professional sports teams. (The industry executives who comprised the TCIV audience were his most daunting audience to date, he quipped.)
Herren said that when speaking with students, he no longer focuses his talks on the worst days of his past. Instead, conversations center on why one starts using in the first place.
“We’ve gone horribly wrong with how we present addiction to children,” he said. “We’re showing what happens instead of asking why are you letting it begin?”
In addition to his speaking series, Herren has also founded Herren Wellness, a private pay treatment center with locations in Massachusetts and Virginia.
“As a man living in recovery,” Herren said, “I want to make sure everyone who walks through our doors has every opportunity to receive gifts I have received.”