PUEBLO — Richie Webber says when traveling across the country, some people called him "The All-American Addict". Now, after 8 years sober, he's using his platform to have honest conversations about addiction.
He's going across America working on a documentary for Netflix. He's talking with people such as judges, law enforcement, those who've recovered from addiction, and especially students.
"A lot of where it starts is right here with these kids, this is the next generation, and if we don't address this problem now, the problem's going to multiply, right?" said Webber.
On Tuesday, he spoke with a group of students at Dutch Clark Digital Online Learning, an alternative high school in Pueblo. They had a conversation about his past with drug use, his journey to become sober, and advice that he had for them. Webber did not shy away from any questions students asked.
“Our kids were engaged, and what I'm proud of most is that the interact. They listen, they ask questions, and the questions they asked were very personal. I think that's good for our students to be able to express themselves and get positive feedback like Richie provided," said Principal Richard Mestas. “I think that kids appreciate when we're real with them”.
Webber says that in his experience, he's seen most teenagers use drugs to avoid confronting issues like trauma. Having an early, therapeutic, and holistic approach might do wonders.
"I think healthy coping mechanisms is where it all starts. Like I talked about the gateway mindset, we need to teach kids how to deal with their problems, teach them how to deal with their mental health," he said.
When asked by a student if he would change anything about his life, he said no. The only thing he'd change would be getting sober earlier.
"Trying to show these kids another way to live life is huge. And for me, it makes all the pain I've been through worth it".
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