Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Community Partners for Hope logoArea residents are invited to an April 3 forum to hear ex-NBA player Chris Herren describe his spiral into addiction, which began when he was a teenage athlete and nearly claimed his life at age 32.

The free event at the Pequannock Township High School auditorium is sponsored by Community Partners for Hope, a coalition of 11 community groups and houses of worship committed to raising awareness about the opioid addiction crisis. The 7 p.m. presentation marks the coalition’s third community event since October.

“Chris will be speaking about his real life struggles with addiction, and those in attendance will get an understanding of how difficult it is to break a drug habit once it is started,” said Doug Cook, a past president of the Pequannock Valley Rotary who helped organize the program.

Herren, now 41, was a stellar player at his high school in Fall River, Massachusetts, but even then he had begun his descent into addiction. He began drinking beer at age 14 and cocaine four years later. He failed drug tests while playing for Boston College and California State University, Fresno.

He was drafted into the NBA, and wound up playing for the Boston Celtics — a childhood dream — but he was hooked on prescription painkillers and heroin. His addiction cost him his NBA career and caused him to spiral out of control. He racked up criminal charges related to drug use and nearly died of an overdose.

After committing to sobriety in August 2008, the married father of three began sharing his story across the country to keep young people from using drugs and alcohol, and to inspire recovery for those dealing with addiction.

Drug overdoses claimed 1,587 lives in New Jersey in 2015, an increase of 21 percent from 2014, with heroin deaths accounting for 918 of them, according to the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office. The total of drug-overdose deaths in 2015 is more than 2 1/2 times the number of people killed in New Jersey motor vehicle crashes the same year.

Herren will answer audience questions at the end of his one-hour talk. Tickets to the evening event are free, but registration is required. Go to CPFH1702.eventbrite.com to reserve seats. During the school day, Herren will speak at a student assembly about the dangers of drug use, drunk driving, smoking marijuana, peer pressure, bullying and cutting classes.

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ABOUT COMMUNITY PARTNERS FOR HOPE

Community Partners for Hope is a not-for-profit corporation that addresses important issues facing our communities. Our goal for this series of programs is to educate members of tour communities about drug addiction (especially heroin and other opiates) and to introduce them to resources, so they have places to turn for help. The following organizations are supporting this important initiative: Chilton Medical Center; First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains; Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Lincoln Park and Montville; Holy Spirit Catholic Church; NewBridge Services; Pequannock Municipal Alliance; Pequannock Township Coalition; Pequannock Valley Rotary; Suburban Woman’s Club of Pompton Plains; The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Saviour; and W/HIM Women’s Hands in Mission. Email [email protected] for more information.