Motivational speaker delivers sobering message to Wareham Middle School students

Mar 12, 2018

Drawing from his own experiences, motivational speaker Rich Barnes warned Wareham Middle School students about the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction on Monday morning.

“I lost 28 years of my life doing bad things,” said Barnes.

The Bridgewater resident told eighth and seventh grade students that he started getting in trouble at age 7 when his parents divorced. At 10, he developed an alcohol addiction. He was arrested three times from age 14 to 17 and saw many of his friends die from drug abuse. Barnes talked about being kicked off his high school hockey team and later dropping out of college.

He became addicted to crack cocaine, a habit that cost him as much as $500 a day. When his daughter was 2 years old, Barnes attempted to commit suicide. This incident, along with prayer and being honest with himself and those around him, helped him become sober in 2006.

Barnes told students that honesty is the most important thing when struggling with addiction. He said he wishes he had the strength to ask for help when he was a middle school student.

“Raising your hand and asking for help is courageous,” he said.

The students have the power to make good choices and change their mindset, Barnes said., Barnes said.

“You guys can make any decision you want to make your youth the best it can be,” he said.

Though the topic was sobering, Barnes said it's an important one for middle school students to understand.

“They're vulnerable, they experience peer pressure and some of them are seeing it at home,” he said.

Wareham Middle School Dr. Principal Peter Steedman said the school hopes to “plant those seeds” since so many students’ lives are touched by drug and alcohol abuse.

“They're already thinking about these things,” he said.

Jadyn Travers, an eighth-grade student who attended the talk, said she learned a lot from it.

“It was really cool and inspirational,” Travers said.

For more information on Barnes, visit his website,