HOLDING HOPE SERIES | Osage Tribal Member Shares Journey of Addiction and Recovery

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“I know what it's done for me: It’s given my children their father back.”

Herman DeRoin spent years battling addiction, but now, the Osage Nation member is helping other individuals through peer support at the tribe’s Primary Residential Treatment Center

DeRoin has battled addiction to methamphetamine for about 15 years, but had been sober for many years when he got a job at an oil pipeline in North Dakota. He headed north, leaving his companion in Oklahoma and looking to make a living to support them. 

Upon his return, he says, his companion experienced mental health struggles, and the relationship ultimately ended. DeRoin, now 50, found himself alone with two young kids and a sense of loss and mourning the person he once was in a relationship with but seemed to no longer know. He relapsed, turning to his previous life of drug abuse and addiction. 

“Everything that I loved, that we built together, was gone,” he said. “And so I relapsed and I can't tell you how long it was. But it was several months. I still kept up the facade of keeping it together.”

DeRoin said he fell deeper into the addiction, going back to old ways and hanging out with people who were unhealthy for him. The tipping point came one day when his daughter knocked at his door, pushing her fingers underneath trying to reach him. 

It haunted him. 

“My moral compass wasn't just totally shot, and so that was the thing that I was like, ‘I can't do this to the kids,’” he said. 

DeRoin found himself in treatment at Osage Nation’s Primary Residential Treatment Center in Barnsdall. PRT is a 60-day program for men and women suffering from substance abuse. This program was developed to encourage and prepare Native Americans for a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle. 

PRT focuses on comprehensive services specific to men and women and their unique problems which include assistance with legal problems, medical care, social services, financial training, cultural diversity, social support, housing assistance, literacy training, and education needs as well as alcohol and drug treatment. Family counseling is offered to assist clients in re-establishing relationships with their family members and to teach clients coping mechanisms in order to maintain these relationships. Once the client leaves treatment, they are referred to an aftercare program to assist them in maintaining sobriety.

DeRoin said the sweat lodge offered as part of the treatment has been particularly helpful for him. 

“It's a huge part of my recovery. It's a huge part in everybody's recovery. That sweat lodge is that place where you find God. It's all about sobriety,” he said, later adding: “It makes everything right in my life. I go there to recharge. I go there to get things off my chest.”

Now several years sober, DeRoin works on the Community Opioid Intervention Pilot Project, which addresses the opioid crisis in the area. He runs various groups for others taking part in recovery work, and is able to spend much-needed time with his kids. 

“I get to share my experience, strength and hope with all these clients,” he said. “My job helps me stay sharper and it's really fulfilling.” 

In terms of sobriety, DeRoin said it’s still one day at a time. But one day turned into three years sober - he recently received his three-year chip, and he’s looking to go back to school for his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in psychology and become a caseworker or something similar. 

“There’s so much need for help here,” he said. 

For DeRoin, the chance at sobriety has been life-altering. 

“It's given me a sense of hope and a sense of responsibility. If I can do it, anyone can. I’m nobody special. I was just somebody trying to get right.”

The Osage Nation is currently preparing to develop a transitional living facility and counseling center for adolescents, men and women. It will also include administrative and counseling offices. 

Find out more information about the Osage Nation Primary Residential Treatment Center here

About the Series: 

The Holding Hope Series focuses on sharing ways the Osage Nation Primary Residential Treatment (PRT) Center supports individuals suffering from substance abuse. If you or a loved one needs support, please call (918) 287-5413. #holdinghope