He used meth to cope with grief. Now, he’s starting a new life.

Larry Kocher has used meth most of his life. He started when he was only 13.

“I was just hanging out with the wrong people at the wrong time, I just got hooked on it,” he said.

But over the years, meth became a way to cope with his grief. In 2010, he lost his brother in an accident and his mom to cancer. In 2013, his father died in a car wreck. In 2017, his grandmother died. In 2020, his grandfather died.

“I don’t have any family left except for my aunt. I used meth to cope with all that throughout the years,” he said. Part of its appeal was that it helped him avoid loneliness. “In the dope game, you can surround yourself with people. I don’t have that many sober people.”

But he’s finding more sober people now. He had the opportunity to join the Elkhart County Drug Court program in May of last year. He had been arrested seven months earlier – October 30, 2021, which is also his clean date. He went to jail and was facing a 10-year sentence before drug court gave him a second chance. He’s been at the Upper Room since then, and now serves as an RA, helping other residents and taking on additional responsibilities. He’s completed Oaklawn’s Intensive Outpatient Program and its Aftercare classes. He’s been to treatment lots of times before, but this is the first time he’s completed it.

“Everything’s really different this time,” he said. “I never cut out people, places and things (triggers). I always went right back to the same friends, same places. This time I’ve got no contact with a lot of them. That and keeping myself occupied. The classes kept me busy. Drug court keeps me busy.”

He’s also working full time and saving up for a place of his own. He could probably leave the Upper Room now, he says, but anywhere he’d go is a trigger. He’s saving for a new place and a new start.

He’s proud of the changes he’s made in his life to stay sober. It isn’t easy, and you have to want it, he says. And, you have to be patient.

“Things don’t happen overnight,” he said. “In the drug game, we get what we want when we want it. When we’re sober, things take time to progress.”

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