Former addict shares his story to help others

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VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) -- Back in the '90s, Chris Herren was a basketball superstar in the small town of Fork River, Massachusetts. His talent took him all the way to the NBA.

It seemed like he had it all, until drugs overtook his success and left him fighting for his life. Now he travels the country, hoping to stop young people from falling into the same trap.

Herren was a freshman at Boston College when he tried cocaine for the first time.

"You know, you try something and you think it'll be just one time. And that one time takes 14 years to walk away from. I mean, there's people that try cocaine and they never come back. There's nothing social about doing drugs like that," said Herren.

He told the audience about his four overdoses and how he once flat-lined for 30 seconds. He says it's always difficult to share such intimate details about his past, but says he feels it's his responsibility to try and stop someone from going down the same path.

"You know, I think sometimes when you struggle, you feel you're alone and you're the only out there feeling the way you feel. I think it's important to share this and to kind of break down the stigma of it. If people can see me and say, 'You know, it happened to him.' It happens to a lot of people," he said.

Herren says he hurt the ones he loved most with his drug addiction.

"Drugs not only affect the person who's struggling, it affects their whole family and friends. Everyone suffers around an addict," he said.

After many ups and downs, Herren has been sober since August 1, 2008.

"It's always a process, but one that I'm grateful for today because the one good thing about living in sobriety is you find the silver lining in a lot of stories and your past is the past," he said.

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