Community begins to open difficult discussion

By Kayleigh Rahn
It’s time to talk about the first day.

That first day when a young adult from Douglas County should have the self confidence and self love to walk away from a harmful substance, but instead feels a pressure deep enough to say “just this once.” That’s the first day of a lifelong battle with a disease known as addiction; that’s the first worst day without anyone ever noticing.

That was a message brought to Tuscola Community High School by Ex-NBA star Chris Herren, who lived a dream of starting as guard for his hometown Boston Celtics all the while taking on a life-threatening battle with drug addiction.

Months away from hitting 10 years of sobriety, Herren has made it his mission to open dialogue in communities that are hurting from addiction.

“We need to have more focus on the first day, not just the worst day,” Herren pleaded to a crowd at Tuscola Community High School. “That first day, they’ve already hit rock bottom, and we didn’t even notice.”

Herren’s message was a two-fold process. The event began during the school day when students from each county school filled TCHS gymnasium with more than 1,100 teens in attendance. Herren’s addiction story was delivered in a 30-minute video before he came to the students with a message of wellness.

During his presentation, several students came forward with their thoughts of suicide, self harm, and addiction within their family and friends. More than a dozen students were connected with counselors from various community resources who were onsite.

“A lot times this is exhausting, but it’s a good hurt,” Herren said following the daytime event. “When I first thought of this it was a message for drug abuse, but now I think it’s a message for all. I try to cover as much as I can, because I believe drugs and alcohol are symptoms of something. If we can discover why, if you look within to challenge your self and your soul to be better emotionally, spiritually, physically I believe that’s the beginning of the process of healing.”

Following the student discussion Herren was available for student to talk with one-on-one about their struggles and the burdens they’ve been carrying.

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, May 2 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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