"It was the only thing that would numb me," the country star says of his struggle with substance abuse


Ty Herndon is opening about the lowest point in his life.

The country music star rose to fame in 1995 with his breakout hit “What Mattered Most.” But in the years that followed, he struggled with drug and alcohol dependence. Herndon recounts his battle with those demons in a new episode of Oprah: Where Are They Now?, and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the clip from the show, airing Saturday.

“I look back on everything now, and the drugs, I consider them to have been my medicine,” Herndon, 54, says in the OWN special. “At the time, it was the only thing that would numb me out, that I wouldn’t have to feel the hell that I was feeling in my spirit. The bottom for me, during that time, was not wanting to live anymore. I’d lost my faith. Every relationship I touched crumbled.”

Indeed, in the early 2000s, Herndon divorced his second wife and began to spiral before finally entering rehab for the second time.

“It was really difficult to even find a reason to get up in the morning, to put my shoes on, to put my boots on. And I finally had to make a decision that I wanted to live,” he adds in the clip, “and actually, that happened when my sister told me she was pregnant with my nephew. That little boy gave me a big reason to want to live and to work harder, try harder, be better.”

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Credit: Jeremy Ryan

Today, Herndon is sober — and has been for years — and a big part of living his life to his fullest came in 2014, when he came out publicly in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE.

Coming out and his life with his partner Matthew Collum actually informed his latest album, House on Fire, which he released last fall.

So, because becoming an uncle was such a life-changing moment, do he and Matthew have any plans to start a family of their own?

“The great thing about being a musician is I’ve got so many friends who are just becoming fathers, at my age right now, and I think it would be awesome. I would absolutely love to have kids. I’m at a place in my life where that would make a lot of sense for me and for Matthew,” Herndon told PEOPLE in November. “We need to get married first!”