Client Spotlight: John Katalinas, Residential Program Center
Arlington native John Katalinas started drinking and getting high off crack cocaine at the age of 14. Drinking was his drug of choice.
“My drinking led to panhandling, isolation, and sleeping on the streets,” said John. “I had to call my family every once in a while, to let them know I was still alive.”
Now at age 54, he is nine-months clean and has a new, more optimistic view of himself.
“My outlook now is that it’s okay to be me,” John said. “Before, I use to think— ‘I’m 54, I don’t have a car and a house. I don’t have this; I don’t have that.’ What I have learned is that I have me. Having those other things do not make you a person.”
John has been in treatment several times before—at one point, he was sober for five years, but he said he ultimately drowned in his negative emotions. Addiction has plagued his family for generations, including his mother, siblings, and son. Late last year, though, he received care at the Detox and Early Recovery Program within the Volunteers of America’s Residential Program Center (RPC). It was different this time.
“I came to this treatment center on December 16th  and it was more personal and it was the best treatment I ever had,” he recalled. “I learned to look at myself here. I learned that I have a lot of feelings and that’s okay. Before, I was afraid to think about my feelings.”
He calls the Volunteer of America’s RPC staff relaxed, firm, and truly caring.
“They also taught me that all the things that have happened in my life are only experiences. They don’t make me a bad person.”
Since graduating from the program’s Early Recovery Center, John has moved into a recovery house and works at a pizza shop.
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “I just started working 30 hours a week and my boss knows I’m in recovery. I’ve never done that before– let people know what is going on with me.”
He says being transparent has helped him talk out his emotions instead of relying on the bottle for comfort.
“I’m learning to vent,” he said. “Letting people know how I am, is the only way people can help me.”
John also carries new spiritual tools to aid his recovery.
“When I came [to the Volunteers of America RPC], I did not believe in God,” he said, adding that another man in recovery at the center introduced him to the word. “Now there is no doubt in my mind that there is a God. I pray every day. I don’t have to get on my hands and knees to do it. I can talk to him any time of the day. And now I know I’m being heard.”