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      U.P. man tells his story of overcoming addiction

      From tragic suicides like Robin Williams to untimely drug overdoses like Philip Seymour Hoffman, celebrity deaths have brought issues like depression and substance abuse into the spotlight.

      But deaths like theirs are not just happening in Hollywood.

      According to the American Medical Association, roughly 50 percent of people with mental illness abuse substances such as alcohol and drugs across the country.

      But just because someone abuses substances does not mean they are mentally ill, and nor is the opposite true.

      However, the AMA states that it is very common for the two to go hand in hand.


      Henry De Roche says his childhood was difficult.

      He was in and out of foster homes and other child services. At just 16 years old, to help with his depression and to fit in with his friends, he started using drugs and alcohol.

      "It destroyed my life in so many ways. It ruined my reputation. It just did a lot of damage," he said.

      Henry says he struggled with his depression and substance abuse for years. During that time, he had two daughters and a girlfriend. But even though it should have been happy times for Henry and his family, it wasn't. He continued to use.

      "When they become 21, 25, 30, and they've been using for that long period of time from their early teen years until then, their brains think that that's normal. And for their brain to feel normal, they have to continue to use," said Charlie Yeager, Certified Prevention Specialist for Marquette-Alger RESA.

      Yeager says when someone takes part in an activity they enjoy, the brain releases a chemical called called dopamine, which elicits the feeling of happiness. When someone uses a substances like alcohol or drugs, the brain releases an abnormal amount of dopamine. But when your body gets used to it....

      "You don't get that same high. And you have to use more and more, and that's really where the addiction comes in," said Yeager.

      This is what Henry went through during his high point of addiction. He lost his family, and almost lost his children, in his pursuit to get high. But in 2009, Henry says he made the decision to be be clean once and for all.

      "And I knew that I had to get it together for my kids. I knew I was going to lose them and that I was at a fork in the road," he said.

      Henry says he is now a man of deep faith, and that faith has grown stronger in recent years. He credits God and a few of the substance abuse and counseling programs here in Marquette County for his success.

      "It's important to understand that when you're turning away from something you have to turn towards something. Otherwise you're just going to 360 and end up back where you were. You have to have a new trajectory," said De Roche.

      These days, Henry says he is still in recovery, saying he thinks all recovering addicts will always be in recovery since the temptations are always there. He lives in Ishpeming, happily married and now with a third child. Henry has now dedicated his life to helping others recover from addiction. He maintains that God helped him recover, and says addiction is a spiritual problem with a spiritual solution.

      If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, mental illness, or both, please click on the links provided below.

      Marquette General Substance Abuse Programs

      Alcoholics Anonymous

      Narcotics Anonymous