‘Our Darien’ —Former NBA star offers substance abuse talk in Darien

Chris Herren

Chris Herren

Contributed photo

The Community Fund of Darien and eight local partners are welcoming students and parents to the presentation “Changing the conversation on substance use” with Chris Herren.

Herren is a celebrated former professional basketball star and wellness advocate, on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. Herren will take the audience on his journey from addiction to sobriety, sharing experiences that have impacted his life as a teenager, athlete and speaker. He will also address themes of gateway drugs, prescription drug use, vaping, the impact of COVID-19 and the responsibility of prevention starting with us all. To conclude the event, Herren will field live questions. Registration is free and required for this event at www.communityfunddarien.org.

Herren played at Boston College and Fresno State, two seasons in the NBA — including one with his hometown team, the Boston Celtics — and seven seasons overseas before losing it all to the disease of addiction.

With the unwavering support of his family and friends, Herren has been sober since August 1, 2008, and he now shares his story with the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others.

His recovery journey has been documented in the bestselling memoir, “Basketball Junkie,” the Emmy-nominated ESPN Films documentary, “Unguarded” and in countless local, national and international stories by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated, among others. Through Herren Talks, Herren has spoken to over 1 million students and community members, sparking honest discussions about substance use disorder and wellness.

Through the Herren Project, he and his team empower schools and communities to make healthy choices, while also guiding families through recovery. In 2018, he also founded Herren Wellness, a residential health and wellness program that helps guests lead healthy, substance-free lives.

Herren’s presentation, one of a series of events to address teen substance use and prevention from The Community Fund of Darien and the Thriving Youth Task Force’s “Our Darien“ campaign, is made possible with the support of the Darien Depot, Darien Youth Commission, Silver Hill Hospital, YWCA Parent Awareness, Darien Library, Darien YMCA, Noroton Presbyterian Church and Trinity Church.

The program, recommended for students in grade 8 and above, will be moderated by John Hamilton, president and chief executive officer of Liberation Programs. Hamilton is nationally recognized as an expert in the field of addiction treatment and prevention. Liberation Programs, one of Fairfield County’s leading behavioral health organizations, provides prevention, treatment and recovery services to help individuals and their families impacted by substance use and mental health conditions to foster hope and maintain wellness.

Herren’s last visit to Darien in 2017, when he spoke to Darien High School students during the day and to a packed auditorium of parents and others in the evening, made a lasting impression on his audience. Two of those members, Katie Chandler and Ethan Fox, are now DHS seniors in The Community Fund of Darien’s Youth Asset Team and recently appeared on Herren’s new interview series “Ask Chris” that airs on all Herren Talks social media channels. A link to the interview, a preview of the Feb. 10 event, is available on the TCF website at www.communityfunddarien.org.

For the past four years, The Community Fund of Darien in collaboration with the Thriving Youth Task Force (TYTF) has educated Darien teens and adults about the dangers of teen binge drinking through the “Our Darien” social marketing campaign. This public health initiative aims to shine a spotlight on the impact of alcohol on the teen brain and to offer proven tactics towards healthier attitudes and behaviors. A growing body of research shows an ongoing parent-child dialogue about risky behaviors, combined with clear rules and consequences, equips students to make healthy choices in the short and long term. The “Our Darien” campaign is funded by a grant from the state of Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).