Client Spotlight: Coming to Life

Living with extreme bullying and violence in Chile, Anthony Castro risked everything to come to the United States. For as long as he could remember, he dreamed of living freely as a gay man in this country. He never imagined that he would become addicted to meth and endanger his dream of U.S. citizenship.

Arriving in San Francisco from Miami with his partner in 2008, Anthony’s life quickly began to center around partying. “We were each other’s set-ups,” he said, encouraging each other to party. Eventually, the relationship collapsed.

In 2016, still consumed with getting and using meth, Anthony lost his mother, who he also considered his best friend. Filled with profound grief, he was sleepless and malnourished, fearful of leaving his apartment and miserable. He had no electricity and no cell phone and he decided to end his life.

His dealer left a pile of meth and within a 24-hour period Castro injected five grams. He described waking up the next day filled with agonizing pain, unable to stand, focus, speak or see. He was hospitalized for the overdose and when he returned from the hospital, he was determined not to use again. But quitting meth was so difficult, Anthony said, it was like “trying to learn to walk without crutches while your legs are broken.”

For four months he stayed “clean” but was completely alone, isolated and had no emotional or practical tools to help him cope with his cravings. Desperate, he set up an intake appointment at AHP, certain there would be nothing for him there.

Anthony was surprised to hear that he was eligible for a variety of services, including a case manager, a support group and counseling. Once he started coming to the AHP Services Center, he felt relieved to get all the help he needed under one roof.

Now Anthony is living a wildly different life. He and his canine companion, Adele—wearing matching outfits sewn by Anthony—travel through the city and he relaxes knowing that he has the help he needs to remain meth-free.

And in 2017, Anthony realized his dream: With the assistance of his AHP case manager, he celebrated becoming a U.S. citizen. We are all rejoicing in Anthony’s transformation.