My name is Erica Cerda and I am a 28-year-old recovering meth addict.
I had no real reason to start using drugs. Sure, my parents fought a lot and divorced when I was pretty young but nothing too extraordinary happened to me when I was little. Neither one of my parents was an addict, no one had abused me, and my needs were always met. Yet, somehow, drugs got a hold of me.
I started smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana around the age of 12. I did it because I liked the way it made me feel – fun, popular, cool. Along with the using I began act out sexually, by that I mean I began to have sex with many different boys and men. It’s as though I was always searching for fulfillment and it seemed drugs and attention from guys made me feel fulfilled – but that feeling was temporary.
By the time I was 15 I had gotten involved with a guy who was older than me and I thought I was in love. His dad was a meth dealer and so began my love affair with methamphetamines. I lived for meth; my world revolved around the buying, selling, and using of it. The more I used the worse things got, but at the same time, I didn’t care. Smoking turned to snorting, which turned to injecting, which led to manufacturing. I had no bottom…or so I thought.
Between the ages of 15-24 my life is sort of a blur. I know that custody was taken away from my parents as I was deemed “out of control.” I know I have been to treatment at least 9 times and to prison 3 times. I know when I turned 18 I was released from the group home I had been living in only to be found with a meth lab in my house 7 months later. I was hopeless and helpless, mainly because I didn’t want help; I just wanted to get high.
As I got older, sentences got longer and before I knew it I was facing 30 years in prison. When I heard the plea agreement I remember thinking, “What have I done?” “Where did my life go?” Things weren’t “fun” anymore and I needed a way out. So at 24 years old I decided there was only one way out – death. So, on my wedding night (yeah I somehow managed to find someone to marry me through all this) I slit my wrists in the bathroom of my honeymoon suite and spent my “special” night in the ICU. Now if that’s not rock bottom I don’t know what else is!
To make a long story short I decided to get some help. I begged the judge to let me go to a place called Teen Challenge in Mandan, ND while I awaited sentencing on my current charges. He very reluctantly let me go and I remember him saying to me, “You can go, but you won’t make it, and when you come back you will face me again.” Talk about encouraging! Needless to say I did somehow make it. I graduated after 13 months and in that 13 months God transformed me into a new person. When I went before the judge he said he saw such a change in me that he didn’t see the benefit in sending me back to prison at all. I got to go home to my husband (who faithfully stuck by side and supported me while I was in treatment) and my life has never been the same since.
I am now a third year student at the University of North Dakota enrolled in the social work program with a minor in addiction studies. I help facilitate a recovery group at the jail in which I offer hope to women suffering from addition. I found a good job at the hospital despite what people told me about not being able to get a good job with felonies, and I wake up each day thankful to be alive and sober. I like to say that God turned my MESS into a MESSAGE and I fully intend to share that message with those who suffer from addiction!