Motivational speaker delivers sobering message to Wareham Middle School students

By Lydia Goerner | Mar 12, 2018
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Rich Barnes shares his experience with drug and alcohol addiction at Wareham Middle School on Monday.

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,

Comments (4)
Posted by: Rosebud | Mar 13, 2018 10:12

A good move by the school administrators.  It's unfortunate some of these children are already dealing with family members who have addiction problems.


Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Mar 13, 2018 10:44

It is great that they did this for the kids, no problems with that.  It’s also great that our town is planning and managing the legalization of marijuana, no problems with that.  It’s just that it’s hard not to sense a hint  of irony having both articles side by side...just sayin...

Posted by: SammieJfive | Mar 13, 2018 22:13

WBTS, I totally agree with you! You've come around somehow, and now have compassion. I would never take any credit for it, but I love that when you speak, there is understanding in your comments. Prayers for you and yours.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Mar 14, 2018 21:44

Sammie, good to hear from you on here.  It's been a while.


Yea, being negative and cynical all the time takes its toll.  It was starting to rub off on my real life.  People were like "dude, you sound like that WBTS commenting a-hole on Wareham Week".  That's a true story!


Don't go giving me too much credit.  I still have my peeves and cannot stifle everything :)  Plus, what fun would that be?

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