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WCBS 880 Special Series: Bad Medicine - Part 5 - Staten Island's Drug Death Problem

WCBS 880 reporter Irene Cornell is doing an extended series on drug abuse, called Bad Medicine: When Painkillers Kill. The series will run through May 23. Be sure to check for her pieces if you miss them on-air.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - In all of New York City, Staten Island has the biggest problem with addiction and death by Oxycontin, WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported.

WCBS 880's Irene Cornell On The Story


"We did arrest a crew of people selling them out of an ice cream truck. We took down a gang of people dealing out of a local deli in which one of the people involved was a police officer from the Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority who was selling drugs in front of his child," Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan told Cornell. "That's probably just the tip of the iceberg."

Against this backdrop, the DA recruited one-time Boston Celtics star Chris Herren to speak to vulnerable high school kids.

Herren told of his descent into an addiction to Oxycontin and heroin so severe that it ended his basketball career and once had him declared dead in the street.

He told finally of living in a shell of a house, no electricity, everything sold, including his wife's jewelry and kids' toys, to support his habit.

"When I was 32-years-old, I walked into a supermarket in Fall River, Massachusetts, where I was a kid who scored 2,000 points, "Rolling stone," "60 minutes," two documentaries, two books, a reality show, and I was tackled walking out the door of a supermarket in my hometown because I had food tucked in my shirt for my daughter. Seven years earlier, I was making a half a million dollars playing basketball," he told the students at Wagner High School.

"I travel, and the commonly asked questions is marijuana. 'Hey, Mr. Herren, what's up with marijuana? You think marijuana's a gateway drug?' My answer to that: I've hung out with crackheads and heroin addicts for 10 years on street corners and I never met one that said they started with crack and heroin. Every single crackhead, every single heroin addict you see on the corner, sat in assemblies just like this, listening to people just like me tell their story and they chose not to listen," said Herren. "I know that's a fact. So thank you for letting me tell my story."

He added: "If you're in this assembly laughing, good luck. I laughed."

The kids weren't laughing. They were cheering for him.

What do you tell your children about drugs? Share your story in the comments section below.

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