Herren speaks to students on the dangers of drug abuse

Lorelei Ryan, Editor

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Chris Herren talks to students about substance abuse during the school-wide assembly held at Grace Church.

“More people die from drug overdoses a year than car crashes and homicides combined.”

This is what Police Chief William Carson said at the beginning of the school-wide assembly and why Pattonville High School attended an assembly on heroin/opioid drug use sponsored by the Maryland Heights Police Department on Wednesday, March 7, during school.

Carson started the school-wide assembly held at Grace Church with a talk on how the heroin/opioid crisis is increasing in the Pattonville area. He mentioned that 19 people have died recently of drug overdoses including eight in Bridgeton, five in St. Ann, and six in Maryland Heights.

Chris Herren was then introduced with a 30-minute video which gave his background of playing basketball through high school, to college, and getting selected by the Denver Nuggets in the 1999 NBA Draft, all while dealing with a drug addiction. The video included footage from talks he has had with high schoolers, prisoners, and college students. He mentioned that he was arrested many times, having seven felonies against him, and even confessed to being high during some games and press conferences. He also said that he overdosed four times, and the last time he did, he went to rehab for a second time. Herren was away from his family for almost a year after some harsh words he received from a man advising him to call his family and tell them he was not coming home.

His story started off with him drinking and smoking, then when he got to college at 18, he tried cocaine and was hooked. It then moved onto painkillers when his friends told him to try them, and finally, when he was not able to get painkillers, he turned to heroin.

Once the video was over, Herren took the floor to give a motivational talk to students. His talk included a lot of advice on how to better oneself as a person, taking into consideration of how a younger sibling or cousin will look up to you, and hopefully take after how you act. He asked students if they would be happy with the person they turned out to be, or disappointed. This statement got through to many students with younger siblings who they need to be a role model for.

Junior Audrey Watson thought the assembly was very moving, saying that she enjoyed it a lot.

“I thought the assembly was just going to be a ‘Don’t do drugs’ kind of thing,” she said. “[But] I loved it. I loved that he used stories of other people and not just his own. And even better, they were people closer to our age so that we could see how it can affect people young and old.”

Watson was touched by his speech by seeing how she is not in the place she wants to be, making her want to better herself and to help the others around her that are affected by drugs.

Sophomore Kennedy Carver was also inspired, mentioning that he motivated her “to set a good example for my younger siblings, so they don’t end up doing bad things that could end up killing them.”

This assembly changed the minds of many students from going in, thinking they were getting a straight forward “Don’t do drugs” talk, but were instead moved and emotional from the powerful video and talk that Chris Herren brought with him to Pattonville.

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