Mum's 'living nightmare' as beautiful daughter, 20, dies after taking cocaine

Angel
-Credit: (Image: Cover Images)


A devastated mum has channelled her grief into a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of drug addiction after her daughter tragically died from a cocaine overdose. Melissa Ledesma's life was torn apart when her 20 year old daughter Angel succumbed to her three-year struggle with substance abuse in June.

Melissa, from Illinois, opened up about her own difficult past, saying: "I was a teenage mum, pregnant with my first daughter at age 17. Angel was my second born, followed by two sons. I once struggled myself with substance use, which began when I was 20 after my best friend was killed by a drunk driver."

She went on to share her personal battle with addiction: "I battled a cocaine addiction for two years before becoming sober. Shortly after becoming sober, I met Angel's dad, who manufactured meth, and I started using it with him. Although I never used while pregnant, I didn't achieve sobriety until I was 25, a year before my fourth child."

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Melissa described their tumultuous family life: "With or without drugs, our marriage was volatile and abusive, with numerous arrests for domestic violence against me and countless orders of protection. We divorced in 2011, remarried others, and eventually divorced again."

Reflecting on her relationship with Angel, Melissa mentioned that they had an incredibly close bond during her early years, but as Angel grew older, tensions between them mounted, reports the Mirror.

Melissa Ledesma
Melissa Ledesma uses her platform to raise awareness of substance abuse -Credit:Cover Images

Melissa, a devastated mum, recounted her painful journey: "Angel faced severe bullying and struggled with ADHD in her early school years. Until she was medicated in late second grade, she had difficulty retaining anything taught. We worked on her schoolwork every night until we were both exhausted and in tears. Despite the challenges, she always felt comfortable coming to me with her problems.

"When Angel started medication, and we moved to escape the bullying, she began to flourish. However, after I remarried, her behavioural issues re-emerged. By age 11, she faced severe mental health challenges, leading to multiple hospitalisations. As she grew older, she got involved in criminal activities, further straining our relationship."

It was when Angel turned 17 that Melissa first became aware of her daughter's drug use. At first, she didn't realise how serious the addiction was.

"I wasn't naive about teens experimenting, so I suspected Angel was dabbling in something, but not to the extent it turned out to be. It was only when Angel was 18, and my oldest daughter warned me, saying I shouldn't give Angel money as I was funding her heroin habit, that I truly grasped the severity of what was going on," Melissa said.

"Angel's addiction was short, fast, and fierce. She always looked and acted the same until she suddenly didn't, and when she changed, it was drastic."

In her desperation, Melissa tried everything to save her daughter. Initially, Melissa believed that a tough love approach was the solution, thinking that constant lectures and withholding money would deter Angel from purchasing drugs. However, this tactic only led to Angel fleeing from home.

Angel
Angel struggled with drugs for three years -Credit:Cover Images

While living on the streets, Angel would occasionally send Melissa texts from unknown numbers, offering reassurances such as, "Mum, I'm okay, don't worry."

Then, all communication stopped, even on significant occasions like Mother's Day and Melissa's birthday. After months of silence, Melissa finally found Angel, who returned home and entered rehab, managing to maintain sobriety for eight months before her tragic death.

"I was heading out after work on Friday, June 2, 2023. Before I left, I asked Angel if she'd be okay alone, and she assured me she'd be fine since her brother Aiden would be home soon. Angel left shortly before Aiden returned, taking only her phone and leaving her charger behind. When she didn't respond to my texts, I made a Facebook post, and she finally commented.

"But by Saturday, her phone died, and she was still gone. I hadn't heard from her by Monday morning," Melissa revealed. The family was unaware that a call for help had been made from a hotel, reporting that a young woman had been found unresponsive in a bathroom.

On a fateful Monday afternoon, the police turned up at their doorstep, bearing news from the hospital. "When I arrived at the hospital, Angel was on life support with no change since being brought in. Tests confirmed she was completely brain-dead."

The events that followed were swift and heart-wrenching. "Everything happened so fast. We all said our goodbyes as a family, then separately. When my sister arrived, she and I went into the ward alone as they removed life support. I lay with Angel until she took her last breath."

Melissa vividly recalls the final moments. "She struggled and shook for a little while. I just kept talking to her, and when I told her it was okay to go and promised I would be okay, she passed away," she shared.

In the wake of her daughter Angel's tragic passing, Melissa has channelled her grief into advocacy for those battling drug addiction. Transitioning from her job as a waitress to a Recovery Support Specialist, she also uses her TikTok platform to raise awareness about the issue.

To keep Angel's spirit alive, Melissa established Angels Sober Shack, an online venture selling merchandise to promote substance use disorder awareness, harm reduction, and mental health support.

Melissa is determined to expand Angels Sober Shack's mission by establishing a non-profit sober living home for young women. "The goal of Angels Sober Shack is to eventually create a non-profit sober living house for women aged 18-27, accommodating two to four residents in a long-term programme of 12-18 months," she explained.

Angels Sober Shack will not only fund this noble cause but also offer employment opportunities to its residents, supporting them as they transition back into society. Melissa envisions a nurturing space where women can work towards sustained sobriety and self-reliance.