Chris Herren’s recovery from addiction and why it’s important


Last week, Pelham Together organized a viewing of ‘The First Day’ at the Pelham Picture House. This moving documentary follows Chris Herren’s story through the faces of high school students. Herren, a former professional basketball player, touches upon the importance of understanding addiction and how the first day of addiction is not often talked about, though it is perhaps the most important.

Herren emphasizes how powerful it is to acknowledge where addiction stems from. He shares stories of his discomfort at parties when he didn’t drink alcohol, and how he relied on it to open up and become more socially confident. Reflecting upon his years as a teenager, he realizes how hazardous these habits are. “Anybody can drink,” he said, “but not everyone can walk away… the sober kids have something special.” Having the power to be yourself without alcohol is one of the most important qualities you can have; it promotes your self-value, and proves that you’re comfortable with who you are.

Herren later prompts the audience to think about someone who looks up to them. He then tells listeners to imagine that young kid following in their footsteps. Being that kid’s role model and subsequently setting a bad example for them is an extremely touching and personal example, and it even made me think of my little cousins, who I care so much about. Alcoholism doesn’t just affect you; it affects your surroundings, and it often hurts the people you care about the most.

What makes Chris Herren’s speech so impactful is the combination of personal stories and emotional language he includes. He makes sure to connect with the audience, and he validates their feelings and struggles. Instead of reprimanding the students, Herren shares the intimate details of his struggle with addiction and warns them not to make the same mistakes he made. His approach to displaying his message is one formed out of love and protection, not hate and disappointment. While he makes sure to convey his disapproval of drinking, he uses his personal experiences to show an understanding of what teenagers go through, and how they aren’t alone.

Chris Herren’s final note is that we are linked together by the experiences and feelings we share, so no one is alone. In Pelham, we are lucky enough to have an extremely supportive staff at the high school to help us, so it’s immensely important to talk to someone if you feel as though you’re struggling. If you take one thing from Chris Herren’s documentary, it’s this: it’s never too late to change.