Our team is committed to working with schools and communities nationwide as we look to the coming months and identify a safe space and format to bring Chris Herren’s message to your community within the guidance shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is our mission to continue to facilitate honest discussions on the topics of substance use and wellness which may be even more relevant today as together we navigate a new normal.


National Trend of Alcohol & Drug Use During COVID-19
According to statistics recently released by Nielsen, U.S. alcohol sales since March of 2020 have increased by 55%. Beer sales increased by 42%, wine sales increased by 66% and spirits sales increased by 75%. Online alcohol sales have increased by 243%. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has indicated that problematic levels of drinking over the past few months include binge drinking and heavy alcohol use.

Additionally, amid social distancing, authorities are reporting a surge in fatal opioid overdoses impacting families and children nationwide. Addiction and recovery advocates recently have said the U.S. is now battling two epidemics at once.

Adolescent Substance Use
According to recent NIH data reported from the Monitoring the Future 2019 Survey, just over 19% of 8th graders and 37% of American 10th graders reported drinking alcohol in the past year. Seniors in high school reported over 52% having used alcohol in the last 12 months and 11% of the alcohol that is consumed in the United State is drunk by people between the ages of 12 and 20.

Adolescent substance use frequently co-occurs with other diagnoses, including depression, anxiety and stress. With an increase in stressors directly attributed to COVID-19, teens may be experiencing:

  • Increased Feelings of Isolation, Depression, Anxiety
  • Extended Access to Prescriptions Within the Home, Community or Family Network
  • Stress/Lack of Coping Mechanisms to Manage Stress Within the Home, School or Social Settings
  • Increased Alcohol and Marijuana Use May Lead to an Increase in Family Conflicts
  • Navigating a New Normal Without Using a Substance as a “Numbing Agent”

Chris Herren addresses the increased stressors and issues that school systems, communities and people across the country are impacted by, directly or indirectly, within each presentation including substance use, other harmful behaviors and mental wellness.


In light of COVID-19, Herren Talks has implemented the following precautionary steps as well as additional assembly presentation options to assist schools in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of students and school staff.

  • Testing Regimen of Speaker, Chris Herren, & Team
  • Temperature Screens on Day of Assembly/Presentation
  • Cloth Mask Use & Gloves During Travel
  • Cloth Mask Use & Hand Sanitizer within Schools & Event Locations
  • Social Distancing the Speaker (Chris Herren) from the Audience
  • No Physical Interactions During or Following the Presentations
  • Student Follow-up Questions and Support Facilitated through an Online Portal/Web Page Following the Presentation


Socially Distanced Assembly/Presentation

This presentation format would be held in the contracted school’s or organization’s presentation space (i.e. gym or auditorium) with limited in-person assembly attendance and a live-stream (facilitated by the school or community AV/tech team) of the presentation to the balance of the identified school or community audience if needed. Chris Herren will be physically present in the primary presentation space speaking socially distanced from the audience.

School Presentation Example: If the school presentation was scheduled for Grades 9-12. The 11th and 12th grades would be seated in the auditorium with increased space between students and the streamed presentation would be transmitted to students in grades 9 and 10 in their classrooms or another space within the school building allowing for socially distanced seating between students.

Additional Considerations Might Include:

  • Staggered dismissal to the assembly limiting hall movement and clustering.
  • Students utilizing hand sanitizer prior to dismissing the students to the assembly.
  • Questions from the live audience and digital questions submitted from the live-streamed presentation space or classrooms.

Community Presentation Example: The community members will be socially distanced within the presentation space. If overflow is needed, the presentation will be streamed to an additional location within the building. The question and answer portion of the presentation will be taken from the primary presentation space.

Live-Streamed Assembly/Presentation

Live-streaming the presentation will be facilitated by the Herren Talks team into your school or community presentation location. The format will remain the same with an introduction video starting the presentation, followed by Chris Herren speaking and a digital question and answer session.
The live-streaming feed will be accessed by password and a detailed overview of the presentation framework, technical requirements and feed distribution log-in information will be shared with the school or organization 4 weeks prior to the presentation. It is essential that the school/community group review the presentation technical requirements and specifications to ensure they are equipped to facilitate the live-streamed presentation.
Please note, travel will not be incurred for the live-streamed presentations. The speaking fee will be invoiced and the contract will not include any language referencing travel. The contract will include language regarding the technical requirements needed for live-streaming the presentations. Should there be a technical issue on the part of the school, there will not be a refund issued, rather the presentation may be recorded for the school or rescheduled for a later date.


At this time Chris is continuing to share his message nationwide with the hope of reaching just one and refocusing the conversation on the disease of addiction from the last day to the first. If you have any questions regarding scheduling presentations or any of the information highlighted in this document, please contact Jenny Swider, Communications Director, at jenny@herrentalks.com or 401-243-8555.