Chelsey M. McCullough thanked the judge for sending her to prison because she said the experience taught her a lot.
The convicted drug dealer said she wouldn't have "gotten it" if she had been in a community-based corrections facility first instead of going to prison. A CBCF is a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.
"It did help me," the former New London resident.
McCullough, 25, was released early from prison Thursday and placed on three years of intensive probation. She will remain in custody at the Huron County Jail to be screened for acceptance into a CBCF.
"I was impressed by the letter you wrote to the court," Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway told McCullough.
The judge said he's impressed with her attitude and intention to succeed.
While in prison, McCullough obtained her GED and regularly attended church and substance abuse programs.
McCullough told the Reflector after Thursday's hearing about her plans after finishing her time at the CBCF, which includes going to college. She stressed she wants to give back to the community and other people with drug addictions.
"I know there's not a lot of opportunities here. I want to go out and speak to other addicts," she said.
In September 2012, a jury -- after two full days of testimony and nearly 2 1/2 hours of deliberation -- found McCullough guilty of two counts each of selling heroin and morphine to a confidential informant whom she contacted by texting.
Then in mid-May, McCullough pleaded guilty to possession of heroin. The conviction was for a March 30 traffic stop when Trooper Thomas Halko, of the state Highway Patrol, stopped McCullough for a lane violation when she was eastbound on Ohio 18. The court sentenced her to 23 months in prison -- six months for the possession of heroin conviction and 17 months for a series of probation violations.
McCullough admits now she had been denying her drug usage for many years.
"We all have to go through something to find themselves," she said Thursday. "Living sober is great."