Growing up in Atlantic City.




Dear Atlantic City Friend:

       Here's hoping that all Atlantic City friends, old and new, are doing well. Growing up in Atlantic City was magical looking back and I did not realize they would be the best years of my life with the best people my life would know. I appreciate that so much now. I have been back in the area and involved with fighting addictions. I am reaching out to you now because I need your help. The solutions that are working around the country are not happening here yet and without them the suffering will continue. In fact the next generation of children are very much at risk of experiencing the same horror. We need a recovery culture in Atlantic City inclusive of what leading researchers have proven is required for lasting recovery.


       My career is in the addictions field and one current role is as a paid  consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In this role, I inform communities of areas of vulnerability and recommend stategies for attaining a system that effectivey supports long term recovery from addiction. It was at my brother Denny's funeral that I began to realize that the new recovery advocacy movement had not reached South Jersey. I later found out it had not reached New Jersey. A year later I resigned my position as clinical director at an opiate treatment facility and returned home to lead this.  


       There have been drastic changes in the theory and practice of dealing with substance use disorders and without the recovery advocacy movement, Atlantic City has no chance. My efforts to impact change have frankly been resisted by the status quo but my work with individual families has been excellent. Kid's living in and around "The World's Playground" need us as do the many families currently in crisis. I broke my silence and came home to Atlantic City to try and give back to a place that gave me so much. I returned  with a gift that took me 25 years to acquire. I have the expertise to help end the suffering that is happening, but no community has made this change without a strong recovery community organization (RCO) and that is where you come in.


     I am aware that many of you receiving this have suffered in silence and with shame and that is why organizations for us and led by us emerged in the first place. Counting on us to stay silent because of our shame, inadequate responses to addiction persisted for decades and will continue until we fix it ourselves and we can. The good news is that the jury is in on the facts about addiction. Help me to educate our community on the facts and help me restore dignity to those impacted by a substance use disorder. You will learn more about the work of RCO's but establishing the facts help create the environment for healing. For example:

  1. Addiction is not a choice and the things that happen during episodes are not voluntary.

  2. History books will record our approach correctly when it reports that we, as a society, punished people for involuntary symptoms of an illness that the medical community could not effectively treat.

  3. Addiction IS NOT a chronic relapsing disease - that was an excuse for a failing treatment approach.

  4. Recovery is Contagious.

  5. Addiction can be successfully prevented, treated and permanently recovered from. 

  6. Individuals can not attain permanent recovery in communities that do not have a recovery culture and "recovery ready" environment.

  7. Without a strong citizens advocacy group policies and practices will reflect a value that others put on people who suffer substance use disorders.


Recovery Force of Atlantic County


was founded in memory of


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as the first recovery community organization (RCO) in the state of New Jersey, created to ensure that Atlantic County families had a voice that would ensure access to the

most effective evidence-based solutions for preventing, treating and recovering foom substance use disorders.

Please consider making a donation to help us continue our work.

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Rise Up Atlantic City

Atlantic County ,New Jersey has had the highest overdose death rate per capita in the entire nation for three straight years and has done nothing to change the acute care model that does not work. There is nothing before treatment and nothng after treatment. Removing symptoms and sending people on their way to try, usually for the second or tenth time, to live in a landmine of triggers, untested life situations and under the cloud of a stigma that says you are weak and a loser is cruel and unusual. We are only as valuable as billing codes dictate and they don't exist until you reach the treatment door half dead and end when you leave it. We test drive cars before putting them back on the road but not people with substance use disorders (SUD).


The good news is that the recovery-oiented system was first launched system-wide in Philadelphia almost 15 years ago and the founder of Recovery Force of Atlantic County helped lead this alongside William White. Transforming to this system does not depend on anyone except the recovery community itself. The needed pre-treatment support services and post treatment recovery support are non-clinical and provided by peers. There is a huge body of evidence that this works. People in recovery,their families and friends can complete recovery coach training and work as volunteers in the local recovery community organization (RCO). The culture is changed to one of recovery that can sustain long-term challenges through the work of the members of the RCO and their hosting of events, rallys and celebrations.


The even better news is that during the past four years, the capacity of Recovery Force of Atlantic County to help our community has been built. As the community's RCO and we are a licensed CCAR Recovery Coach Academy, the gold-standard. We need you to help us launch this in a way that will make a recovery coach at the end of treatment the norm. If we do that, long term recovery is the norm.


Our call to action is to become involved in your recovery community organization as much as you are able to by taking action on as many of the links below as you can:

1. Signing Up

2. Volunteering 

3. Donating

4. Sharing Your Story

Your involvement is the most important thing because we can not change life for people like us unless people like us help lead the change.  


Bobby Catalano, Founder of Recovery Force of Atlantic County