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Life After Meth program helps jailed addicts

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 22, 2013 at 9:16 am •  Published: February 22, 2013

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) — Knox County's Life After Meth program is helping incarcerated addicts like Hyla "Angel" Richter, a former user, recover and re-enter the community.

Richter was 13 when she tried methamphetamine for the first time. At age 16 she started cooking it, and by 18, she said, she was sitting in prison.

"I've been in and out of prison all my life," Richter told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial ( ). "It was a path I never meant to take, but I did."

Growing up, Richter's life was far from the ideal, she explained. Her father died when she was eight, and her mother remarried, a couple of times.

"I was 12 when I got moved out of my house," she said. "And when I was 13, my grandparents legally adopted me.

"I had night terrors really bad when I was moved out, for some pretty obvious reasons, so when I was 13, I went to try and buy my first joint," she said. "They said, 'There's no weed left, but here, try this,' and I was hooked. I was a 13-year-old who was afraid to go to sleep, and I found an option that meant I never had to sleep again."

Meth was an easy, though temporary, escape from the past, she said, and it wasn't until she found LAM that she realized she was destined for more.

Now Richter is a full-time student at Vincennes University working to become a juvenile drug counselor at a correctional facility, all while also working full-time.

Sleep is rare, she added, but unlike in the past, she actually misses it.

"I look at it like this, I didn't sleep for 17 years for nothing, what's four more for something," she said. "If it weren't for the LAM program, I wouldn't be in school. They helped me line up financial aid, and fill out my (application), they walked with me through all of the steps."

That's what the LAM program does, Richter said. It's not a program that ends when the jail sentence does, but instead it's a constant, lifelong support, which Richter said is vital in the journey of staying sober.

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