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July 5, 2013

LIFE AFTER PRISON: Woman said trip to jail during addiction helped turn her life around



A common misperception exists that jail is easier than prison. Meghan learned quickly the advantages of being sent to Rockville. Here, mandated work took up her time. A library and exercise room was available. And best of all, the state provided a substance abuse treatment program for those who qualified.

Luckily Meghan did. Soon, she lived in a separate facility nearby with the other women enrolled in the Clean Living is Freedom Forever (CLIFF) program. At first, she joined the program only because it reduced her incarceration time — getting her out of prison sooner. But she quickly began to realize the benefits. At the completion of the program, she didn’t want to leave. For the remainder of her sentence, she became a mentor and counselor to the other women just beginning their treatment journey.

“I fully say it was the best thing that ever happened to me, getting sent to prison, getting into that program,” Meghan said. “I just really blossomed. I found this spark all of the sudden where I have these goals. I have these dreams that I want to do with my life.

“I enjoyed helping people and I enjoyed being that person. And for once I found this happiness and this peace that I had forgotten about.”

Upon her release from prison in November, Meghan returned to her parents’ Clark County home. Before anything else, she remembered that the program taught the importance of a support network. She immediately began to attend local alcoholics anonymous meetings.

Everything else has slowly been getting in order. Although it wasn’t easy, she eventually found a job. Starting in the fall, she’ll return to college with plans of becoming a substance abuse counselor and helping children whose parents are incarcerated for drug-related crimes. At times, Meghan visits schools with the DARE program and teaches students about drug abuse.

Life is different now. Each night, she deposits her tips money that she’s earned into the bank so she won’t have the temptation of cash on hand. People at time treat her differently if they know her past. But all and all, she said she wouldn’t trade what has happened to her.

“I truly believe I have been put through this for a reason and I have a story that can help somebody. I want people to see that you can come out on the other side and that it is possible,” Meghan said. “You can turn your life around. You have to want to make that choice.”

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