Yesterday the Valley Recovery Center of California held its grand opening ceremony at the Guild Theatre in Oak Park, and the keynote speaker was former NBA player Chris Herren, who serves as an Executive Partner with VRCC parent company, Summit Behavioral Healthcare in Atlanta. Six years sober as of Aug. 1, Herren reinforced how important healthy relationships are to living a life worth living which he explains could not be truer for the modern child.
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Mobile connectivity can become a single point of reference for life putting peer pressure on steroids and according to Herren, it is not safe for kids to be themselves and so parents need to get their children thinking and talking about the reasons why they would ever feel the need to alter themselves in order to socialize, and why. “We need our kids to challenge thought that they need to change in order to be good enough,” he said.
Having had his dreams come true to play professional basketball, Herren was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1999 and then was traded to his hometown team, the Boston Celtics in 2000. After suffering a season – ending injury as a Celtic, Herren went on to play in five countries including Italy, Poland, Turkey, China, and Iran. And during and after his basketball career, he struggled with addiction involving alcohol and heroin, which nearly took his life and caused him to lose his wife and young children for a period of time. His addiction started with the one line of cocaine offered him in college, telling himself “just this once”.
Today, he serves as an advocate for treatment of addiction and living in recovery with hope, and he is a motivational speaker for youth at schools across the nation. “It is really hard to be a kid today,” he said. “They are muted and afraid to talk out loud.” Herren shared a story about a 15-year-old girl in one of the student high school audiences wearing a purple shirt who spoke up declaring herself to be a sober kid, and everyone in the student body laughed and mocked her. “She sat down and started crying,” he said, “And I told the students they should be ashamed.” After that experience, Herren started Project Purple to teach kids about the realities of drug abuse and that being sober matters because their lives are important.
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For tips for talking with your child about drugs and alcohol, go to: Coalition for Placer Youth.