Rhode Island College, Office of College Communications and Marketing, News Release

RELEASE DATE:   March 26, 2014


CONTACT:           Rebecca Keister, 401-456-4679, rkeister@ric.edu

                                 Laura Hart, 401-456-8977, lhart@ric.edu





PROVIDENCE, R.I., MARCH 26, 2014 – Former NBA star Chris Herren will share his journey from addiction to healthy living and speak on the need  for increased substance abuse prevention and treatment on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 8 p.m., in Sapinsley Hall, Rhode Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence. This talk is sponsored by the RIC Office of Student Activities and is free and open to the public.

“I hope that my story will make a difference in just one person’s life,” Herren said.

Herren, who played for the Boston Celtics from 2000-2001, has remained drug- and alcohol-free since a 2008 heroin overdose. He relied on financial assistance and support from friends to complete treatment.

In 2011 he founded The Herren Project, a nonprofit that works to increase public awareness about addiction and provides counseling and financial assistance to those seeking treatment who have limited access to healthcare. In 2012 The Herren Project launched Project Purple, a national anti-substance abuse campaign.

He also travels the country to deliver talks on substance abuse, the path to recovery and healthy living.

Herren will speak to Rhode Island College students about the substance-abuse triggers they may face as young adults:

·       Ninety percent of persons with substance use disorders begin their addiction in the teenage years.

·       Marijuana and alcohol are “gateway” drugs that often lead to use and abuse of stronger narcotics.

·       Peer pressure can lead to substance use and abuse. Herren promotes a “Be you 24/7” approach to healthy living.

Marissa Weiss, assistant director of the Office of Student Activities, said students asked to have Herren speak on campus. She said students relate to Herren, who is from Fall River, Mass., as a local public figure and find inspiration in both his rise to international fame and in his commitment to overcoming addiction.

“Herren’s inspirational message is that, when you find yourself in situations of significant pitfalls in life, there are ways to turn things around,” Weiss said. 

Robin Montvilo, director of RIC’s Chemical Dependency/Addiction Studies Program, said the talk will equip RIC students with knowledge to help prevent substance use disorders and related deaths.

“Making people aware of substance use problems can lead to a decrease in stigma for those who have substance use disorders, an increase in available treatment options and an increase in people seeking treatment services,” Montvilo said.

Montvilo also said that increasing public awareness about substance use disorders is critical in the midst of Rhode Island’s drug overdose epidemic. The R.I. Department of Health reports that accidental drug overdose deaths are up nearly 50 percent this year over last year.  State health officials have identified the mixed use of fentanyl, an illicit synthetic opiate, with heroin, cocaine and other drugs as a major contributor to the epidemic.

RIC will host a separate discussion, “Overdose Prevention Forum” on Friday, April 11, 9:30-11:30 a.m. in Alger Hall, Room 110, which will focus on steps individuals and community groups can take to prevent accidental overdose death from painkillers and heroin.

NBC10 Health Reporter Barbara Morse Silva will emcee the event. Speakers include Montvilo; Craig Stenning, director of the Department of Behavioral Health Development Disabilities and Hospitals; Sharon Morello, a registered nurse at The Providence Center; Holly Cekala, RIC student and certified recovery coach trainer; James Gillen, director of Anchor Recovery Community Center; and Michelle McKenzie, program director at The Miriam Hospital.

The April 11 forum also is free and open to the public; seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.