Updated: Oct 7, 2020
By Carlos' mom, Pam
Falls Township, PA
My son, Carlos Castellanos, died at age 23 from a drug overdose, just three weeks after walking me down the aisle at my wedding. On that day, he was happy, healthy and loving life. He had a job and was expecting a promotion the following month. Carlos was also planning to resume college courses. He dreamed of becoming an aerospace engineer, and ultimately wanted to be part of the Engineers Without Borders program so he could help others.
Carlos was sensitive, humble, kind and loving. He was precious to all who knew him. Carlos was also very smart and witty with a great sense of humor, musically gifted, and always excelling. However, he was a perfectionist and never felt like he was good enough. Those feelings of inadequacy are what drove him to start smoking marijuana at age 15. Very quickly, he went looking for a “better high” and moved on to cocaine, heroin and other drugs. Carlos suffered a grand mal seizure at age 18 from crystal meth and stopped using drugs for a very short time after that. However, the pressures that he imposed on himself led him to resume his drug use.
Carlos was in and out of treatment facilities and went through intensive outpatient care a few times as well. His most successful period in recovery was for 20 months, during which he became very involved with helping others in recovery. He volunteered at a local treatment center, and facilitated recovery sessions for other young people who were fighting to stay clean like he was.
After relapsing, my son managed to get sober for the last 10 months of his life. We will never know what caused him to use again and this time, the consequences were fatal. The drug that Carlos took on December 23, 2016 was laced with fentanyl.
What will I miss about Carlos? Everything. I will miss his smile, his hugs, his “I love you Mom’s,” his joking around, and his teaching me how to use my iPhone 6. The photo albums that we will create as a family going forward will not be filled with pictures of our beautiful son and brother as our wedding album is now. We will never again hear his laughter, see him drumming, singing and playing the guitar, or just goofing around with his cat, Simon. My husband, Mike, and I will miss having Carlos outlive us – nothing any parent should ever have to endure.
How do we go on? How do we survive without the son, brother, and friend that we lost to this terrible disease? Mike and I have chosen to do what Carlos would have done had he lived. We tell his story – how amazing of a human he was, who thought about others before he thought about himself. Who dreamed of a future without drugs, a future with hope and life and success and love. So we share the story of who Carlos was and we preserve his memories by fighting when he cannot. We want everyone to know that drug addiction is a primary, chronic disease that alters who you are. It is a disease that is often progressive and fatal. No one chooses to be addicted to drugs. We urge other parents to educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of substance use disorders. We encourage them to get help for their loved ones and for themselves. We fight to get laws enacted to help those who struggle with this disease so that they have full access to treatment and care. Most of all, we rest in God’s embrace, knowing that Carlos is our angel and that we will be reunited with him one day.