“The First Day” with Chris Herren

According to Creighton Drury, the CEO of Center on Addiction, “The First Day” was created by former professional basketball player and wellness advocate, Chris Herren, and presented by Center on Addiction and Cigna. “The First Day” takes an innovative approach to address teen substance use, while helping to refocus the conversation around addiction from the last day to the first. In addition to speaking directly to teens, the film empowers parents, educators and community members to share information, provide support and identify resources to foster healthy life decisions.

What is The First Day?

As Chris Herren mentions in the film, which premiered July 16th on ESPN, if he were to ask everyone in the assembly to bring in a photo of a person with substance use disorder, 90% of them would bring in a photo of someone in the final stages of their addiction. This includes someone who has stark physical damages due to drug addiction, including a sunken face, unkempt appearance, and poor hygiene. The message of the film is to focus not only on this last day but the first day, as well. What does a person with substance use disorder look like in the first days of addiction? The answer: it could be anybody.

Teens and Drug Abuse

This film is important for young people, especially teenagers, to watch because this is an especially vulnerable time for an addiction to take place. In other words – there are many people in the audience who could possibly be living their first days of addiction.

How it Starts

According to a study by the Archives of General Psychiatry, 78 percent of U.S. teens had drank alcohol, and 47 percent of the group said they’d consumed 12 or more drinks in the past year. When it came to drug use, 81 percent of teens said they had the opportunity to use illicit substances, with 42.5 percent actually tried them. Some of the reasons teenagers are easily susceptible to addiction due to peer pressure, current or past trauma or living with a person with substance use disorder.

Peer Pressure

One of the biggest reasons teenagers fall into addiction is due to peer pressure. During a time when teenagers are finding a place to fit in, learning their boundaries and finding things to do during their downtime from studies, it can be easy to fall into a party atmosphere. Just as easy as it is to fall into a party atmosphere, it can be just as difficult to say no to drugs or alcohol, especially when everyone around you is using them as well. Luckily, there are things you can do to stand up to peer pressure.


One of the main root causes of addiction is trauma. For teenagers, this can be trauma they are just learning to deal with or fresh trauma that they are still working to process. Trauma in childhood can include many things, including:

  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse from parents or other loved ones
  • Neglected during childhood by parents or other family members
  • Divorced parents, especially if the child witnesses many explosive arguments
  • Witnessing a traumatic event

When young people experience a large amount of stress, it can cause life-long damages to their bodies. It can affect how their brain grows and processes stress, it can cause negative coping skills, and it can cause stunted emotional growth for the rest of their lives.

Living with a Person with Substance Use Disorder

When young people are close to someone suffering from addiction, these behaviors become normalized in their lives. Seeing drugs, seeing someone high or seeing the negative consequences due to addiction would be far less shocking to them than someone who is not close to someone suffering from addiction. This normalization of addiction can make it easier for young people to turn to drugs or alcohol since they see it as less of a “scary thing.”

About Pinelands Recovery Center

“The First Day” is an important film for young people to see, because they are experiencing the prime years of possibly falling into an addiction. People use the saying “it would never happen to me” for many things, including car accidents, cancer or even winning the lottery. But the truth is – anything could happen to anyone at any time, including drug addiction. The good news is that addiction can be avoided, halted and treated. It is possible to live a life free of addiction, and it is also possible to avoid it altogether if the people who see this movie act diligently and recognize their own red flags. As one of the quotes from a person with substance use disorder in the movie summarises, “if I had seen this movie in high school, my life may have been very different.”

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com