Surviving and thriving after overcoming fentanyl addiction

Reporter: Chris Cifatte
Published: Updated:

This could definitely be called a survivor’s story. And Tim Casto knows it well. It’s his story.

“I went back to using powdered fentanyl and intravenous use, and ended up getting arrested again in Lee County, and doing another two months in jail,” explained Casto.

But, recovering from addiction, he has turned his life around.

During addiction, your mind seems to be the first thing to go. Tim Casto

“I now have two full time jobs that both pay well. I’m going somewhere in life. I have direction now. I have purpose,” he stated with pride.

He owes that renewed direction and purpose, in part, to St. Matthew’s House, which focuses on helping people experiencing hunger, homelessness, or, in Tim’s case, addiction.

Casto shared his story with WINK News Anchor Chris Cifatte as they sat in front of a wall full of names of people who didn’t survive their addiction.

He recalled how in the depths of despair, a voice saved him. It was his sister’s voice.

“She said that she didn’t want to lose me to my addiction. She wanted me to be there for her wedding,” said Casto.

He is sober now. And, he pledged to be at her wedding. It’s a story that would make any sister proud, but not all sisters have that same chance.

My brother didn’t come home. Riley Kempton
Lost brother Josh to addiction

Riley Kempton’s brother, Josh Liesman, lost his battle with addiction. He fought it for half his life and fentanyl killed him.

Now, rather than ever seeing her brother again, Riley wanted to share his struggle and maybe save another family from the heartache hers has endured.


“He wanted to be better so bad,” she said through tears.

“It’s like a warm embrace,” shared Dan Lampinen as he explained the powerful attraction to the deadly drugs. “Any anxiety or whatever stress, whatever you’re holding on to, it just kind of melts away.”

Mike Palumbo, the Director of Operations at White Sands, a residential treatment facility in Fort Myers, considers fentanyl a huge problem.

“They’re having a lot harder time getting off of fentanyl, compared to the other opioids such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone. Their detox is taking, on average, about seven to 14 days, where as, heroin detox usually took three to seven days. We’re seeing that their withdrawal symptoms are a lot more amplified,” explained Palumbo.


The tough lesson – someone stuck in addiction is not going to get or accept help until they are ready.

Riley Kempton does what she can now on her brother’s behalf. She spreads awareness through Drug Free Lee.

St. Matthew’s House has a year-long faith-based residential program to break addiction. It’s the same program that helped Tim Casto.


“I definitely want to go somewhere. I couldn’t say I know exactly where I’m going at this point in time. I’m still figuring that out. But I can tell you I’m going somewhere,” said Casto as he reflected on his future.

Signs of Addiction

  • Difficulties at school
  • Poor work performance
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Altered behavior
  • A noticeable lack of energy when performing daily activities
  • Spending or borrowing more money than usual
  • Bloodshot eyes and poor skin tone
  • Defensiveness when asked about substance use

Get Help

Resources from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office

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