LEESBURG, Va. - There is a growing heroin epidemic in our community. Even President Barack Obama is calling it a public health crisis and is proposing over a billion dollars for drug treatment and prevention programs.
On Tuesday, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office helped put a real face on the heroin epidemic – a man who was destined to become an NBA basketball star, but lost it all to addiction.
Chris Herren used to dominate the basketball court in the early 90s in a small Massachusetts town. He was a promising star athlete who fulfilled his dream of playing for the Boston Celtics.
Now, Herren dominates a different crowd. On this night, he spoke before a full house at Riverside High School in Leesburg about his descent into substance abuse.
The 40-year-old shared his story of experimenting with cocaine at the age of 18. His drug use escalated to prescription drugs and eventually to heroin before a near fatal overdose in 2008.
Herren's high school basketball team was so successful, a book called Fall River Dreams was written about them back in 1994. He revealed this startling bit of information about him and his teammates to a room full of high school students.
“Our parents – doctors, lawyers, politicians, nurses, teachers, stay-at-home moms, single moms – out of the 15 kids featured in that book our junior season that drank in basements, hung out in the woods – seven of us became heroin addicts,” Herren said.
The alarming rise in heroin use is due in part because prescription drugs have become too difficult or too expensive to get, so people turn to the next big high – heroin.
Herren tours the country sharing his story hoping to make a difference in someone's life.
If you would like to learn more about his story, go to www.theherrenproject.org.