Central reacts to Chris Herren’s message


Nina Demirjian

Chris Herren spoke to Central students about substance abuse on Feb. 24.

*Due to the sensitivity of the topic, the students interviewed for this story requested to remain anonymous.

Central has seen its fair share of public speakers. Over the past year, students have heard from Mawi, a motivational speaker who discusses student success, and learned how to face “paper tigers” by Dr. Ginsburg. However, last week there was a change of pace when ex pro-athlete and recovering addict Chris Herren spoke to the student body.

Herren’s message was different from the common topics of ways to cope with stress or how to stop bullying. Although those are important topics, Herren went for a more relevant topic of teenage alcohol and drug use, along with addiction. Drugs and alcohol have always been a prevalent issue among high school students, even at Central.

Most students can admit to experimenting with drugs and alcohol especially upperclassmen.

“Throughout upperclassman I think it is very common but when you get to sophomore and freshman it is less common but still present,” Student 1 said.

Herren’s main message of addiction was that everyone’s story starts the same, drinking and smoking, something common throughout high school. When asked about her experience of the Central drug scene, Student 2 said, “I know a lot of people that smoke weed; it’s obviously very popular. Drinking seems like the most innocent.”

However, Herren spoke about how that’s the way his life of addiction started, which shocked most students at Central.

“Everyone thinks ‘that will never happen to me’, but then we saw a man who was just like us in high school who turned to heroin abuse. That is extremely scary to think about, so I definitely think it will have an effect,” Student 2 said.

Some could say that Central is having a tumultuous year with all of the recent arrests happening at the school. A 15-year-old student with possession of a controlled substance, was charged after he was found with LSD at Hinsdale Central High School on Feb. 13 (Chicago Tribune).  And earlier in the year, a  15-year-old student from Clarendon Hills was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance as a result of a drug search at Hinsdale Central High School on Dec. 9 (Chicago Tribune).

It seems like Herren’s speech could not have come at a better time for Central, but some students do not seem to identify a drug problem at the school, “I think that the majority of students at our school drink, do drugs or both. However, I don’t think that that’s a problem. I kind of expect that from high school students,” Student 2 said.

Many hope for an improvement, however some are not so optimistic, “I think that it will affect the use of hardcore drugs or drugs other than weed but I don’t think it will bring partying to a halt,” said Student 1.  “I will now stay away from hardcore drugs but it will not make me stop drinking.”

The message still resonated with some students, “His message was unique and inspiring. I already planned on never doing heroin, but now I know how dangerous it is and how to prevent others from trying it,” Student 2 said.