Authored by Jen Van Zandt on March 20, 2020

At the age of 13, Nate started going to parties with older kids where he was introduced to and saw all sorts of things. He was living with his schizophrenic mother and Nate felt the need to keep his activities outside of the home to himself. As the eldest of five kids and no father figure in his life, he had free reign to go out and do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to do it.

LOOKING FOR AN EASY WAY OUT

Later in his teen years, Nate was in outpatient treatment for some trouble he’d gotten himself into previously. After his parole officer heard his girlfriend was pregnant, Nate was scheduled for a urine analysis (UA) test to see if he was staying on track. He failed the UA and was sent home to wait for his parole officer to contact him. That night, a police officer came to his home and brought Nate in. They gave him two options; he could be tried as an adult and go to jail, or he could choose to go through treatment under an extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ) prosecution. All Nate wanted to do was get treatment over with so he could get back to his life. He figured after a couple months, he would be back in his car, back at a different place with a different bed, under a different roof.

TURNING A NEW CORNER

When he first arrived at Nexus-Mille Lacs Family Healing, he wasn’t thinking about what he was going to learn or what he was trying to accomplish, he was only thinking about how long he was going to stay. Nate says he was only going through the motions to get through treatment, but after his first successful polygraph test, things really started to kick in. With this first accomplishment, his entire outlook on treatment and his future changed. He began thinking about and working toward his personal graduation goals and what he wanted to accomplish in both the short and long-term. “I was ready to lay everything on the table and do the work that was set down in front of him.”

NAVIGATING ON HIS OWN

After 17 months in treatment, it was time for Nate to return to his community; but he was terrified. Nate feared not knowing how to handle various situations and was afraid that he would forget the tools he learned at Nexus-Mille Lacs.

After treatment graduation, Nate moved to a town where he could attend college. He was on his own without a car and in a town where he knew no one. He was alone and terrified. During the first three weeks, Nate called Nexus-Mille Lacs every day to talk to the staff in his old program. Nate continued to go to school, work, and spend time with his son and now wife. Eventually, they had another child, married, and moved back to Nate’s hometown. Today, Nate manages a restaurant and is an active member in community organizations, his kids’ sports teams, and local activities.

After years of being out on his own, Nate is thankful that his parole officer sent him to Nexus-Mille Lacs. He believes that his old lifestyle would’ve killed him if he had continued on that path. Finding sobriety and guidance helped him see the effects of his choices and learn the tools to get him through life without turning to the negative ways of his past.