About 20 years ago, Castellanos says he “accidentally” fell into the area of addiction treatment, specifically opiate addiction. While working in the emergency room at Natividad Medical Center, the county’s public safety net hospital, and part-time at the county jail, he saw the prevalence of addiction and wanted to help fight it from the front line. It was an uphill battle from the start.
“When I first started working in addiction, I used to think nobody got better,” Castellanos says. “But the longer you do it, you see people can get better and get the lives they deserve. That’s what motivates me.”
In 2012, the doctor opened a family practice on Laurel Avenue in Salinas. It’s unique in that addiction treatment is offered out of the same office.
“Because of the stigma that addiction has, I felt that I could also offer family medicine,” Castellanos explains. “You could go to any primary care office, and you won’t know who has a problem with addiction. If my practice was purely addiction treatment, it would’ve changed the flavor of what we wanted to accomplish. We want to de-stigmatize addiction.”
Castellanos consults with and treats clients from various county substance abuse treatment programs. He is also the current medical director of Valley Health Associates, which has provided methadone treatments for 20 years. Castellanos also manages to squeeze in pro-bono work.
“My life is blessed any time I get to volunteer my service,” Castellanos says. “You think you’re doing it for someone else, but you end up getting the biggest blessing out of it.”