Archive for the ‘News’ Category

AWARENESS CAMPAIGN: Red Ribbon Week 2017

Red Ribbon Week is nationally recognized and celebrated as a symbol of support for efforts to reduce drug use through youth prevention and education programs. By wearing a red ribbon during the last week in October, individuals demonstrate their opposition to illegal drugs and illustrate their dedication to living drug-free and fighting against illegal drug use.

This year we are joining the National Red Ribbon Week Campaign “Your Future is Key, so Stay Drug Free!”

Once again, the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) is sponsoring the campaign by providing red ribbons to all Berks County schools. The 2017 Berks County campaign will run from October 23-27. Requests for ribbons will be on a first come first serve basis. Put in your request today!

Learn more about the Red Ribbon Week Campaign.

2017 Red Ribbon Week Requests

We are excited to have your school participate in this year's Red Ribbon Week campaign. Please complete the information below to request the ribbons for your school. Thank you!
  • Please let us know if you have any additional information you would like us to know about your request.

2017 Recovery Walk & Soberstock

We hope you will join us for the 10th Annual Recovery Walk and the 20th Annual Soberstock event in City Park on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Admission to this event is FREE and open to the public. More information coming soon, but for now, we hope you will SAVE THE DATE! You can get updates on our Facebook Event Page… join in the fun HERE!

Walk begins at 11 a.m. and Soberstock begins at noon.

** NEW THIS YEAR – Walk will start and end at City Park**

CLICK HERE to see the event flyer.

Are you interested in being a craft vendor at the event? DOWNLOAD the application.

This event is in recognition of National Recovery Month. CLICK HERE to learn more.

EVENT: 2017 COCA Annual Conference

“The Blame & Shame of Addiction”
Crowne Plaza Hotel
1741 Papermill Rd, Wyomissing, PA
Thursday, November 2, 2017

We hope you will join us for our 2017 Annual Conference! In the coming weeks, we will post more information about this year’s theme, keynote speaker, and workshops. For now, we hope you will SAVE THE DATE!

Registration for the conference will open mid-September. 

Other related links:

About Us

2016 – Our Biggest Conference Yet!

NEWS: COCA Presents to the Berks Commissioners

July 6, 2017: This morning, Berks County Commissioners heard first-hand the breadth and depth of services provided by the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA). COCA management staff presented at the Berks Commissioner’s meeting and spoke specifically of the work in Prevention, Intervention, Treatment, and Recovery during FY 15-16.

Did you know services provided by Council on Chemical Abuse funding does not necessarily come directly from COCA staff? Today COCA has contracts with 73 different facilities both local and regional, providing the full array of drug and alcohol services.

To view a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, please CLICK HERE.

7/6/17 COCA provides overview of services, resources (WFMZ)

NEWS: COCA Executive Director to Retire After Four Decades of Leadership


COCA Executive Director to Retire After Four Decades of Leadership

Officials praise Vogel’s legacy of growth and accomplishments

Reading, PA: The Board of Directors of Berks County’s Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) has announced its acceptance of Executive Director George J. Vogel, Jr.’s request for retirement. After a distinguished career of almost 50 years, 40 of them serving the Berks County community as Executive Director, Vogel will retire on Sept. 30, 2017.

“It has been an honor to work with George over the years,” said Board President Jeff Auman. “His visionary leadership and passion have paved the way for continued growth and expansion of necessary services to address the disease of addiction. He has established a strong foundation and history of success at COCA. We are sad to see George leave, but we are excited to see the organization continue to grow, thanks to George’s commitment and dedication.”

Vogel started his career in 1969 as a Juvenile Probation Officer and worked as a Counselor at the Bureau of Employment Security before serving as Program Director of COCA’s Prison Counseling Program. On January 10, 1978, Vogel was named the second Executive Director of COCA by the Berks County Commissioners. On the day he was hired, Vogel told members of the media that he hoped to use his new position to expand the drug and alcohol abuse programs in the general community as well as in the county’s school districts.

True to his word, Vogel has played a crucial role in establishing drug and alcohol prevention education programs in Berks County schools, opening doors to allow more people to get addiction treatment, and securing funding and governmental agency support to open recovery housing for those in early recovery from addiction. Today COCA has contracts with 73 different facilities both local and regional, providing the full array of drug and alcohol services.

“George is both a leader and a visionary,” said Stanley Papademetriou, Drug & Alcohol Assistant Administrator at COCA. “In the late 1980s, he imagined a place where those in early recovery from addiction could help each other while living together in a structured and sober environment. Working with local stakeholders, George secured a grant to establish the first Bridge House in center city Reading. It is just one of numerous examples illustrating how George’s foresight and persistence has made a huge difference in our community.”

Today, COCA’s funds help to support nine recovery houses that annually serve over 300 Berks County men and women who are in early recovery from addiction. Thousands of Berks residents have gone on to establish and solidify their recovery and lead sober, healthy and productive lives because of these houses.

Berks Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt said that for more than 10 years Vogel has been a close and trusted ally in efforts to help heal those in treatment and recovery. “George has been a leader at the forefront of many initiatives to improve outcomes for those in his care. He has a passion for what he does. His staff is a testament to his legacy.”

One of the greatest areas of internal growth at COCA has been in the Prevention Department, which reaches more than 10,000 students every year through education in the schools and community programs.

“George Vogel is a friend and the person I trust the most when it comes to the issue of drug and alcohol addiction and treatment,” said Berks Commissioner Chairman, Christian Leinbach. “I’ve learned so much from working with George. He can be serious and funny, but he is especially passionate about doing the right thing when it comes to drug and alcohol related matters. I will miss having George on our team.”

The COCA Board of Directors has established a Search Committee for its new Executive Director. Applications will be accepted beginning early July.

About the Council on Chemical Abuse

Established in 1972 by a group of community members, the Council on Chemical Abuse was formed as a private non-profit organization to address rising concerns of drug and alcohol use in Berks County. The Berks County Commissioners contract with the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) as the Single County Authority for Berks County, PA. As the coordinating agency for publicly supported drug and alcohol programming in the county, COCA and its partners provide an array of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services.

For comments or additional information, please contact Jennifer Kaucher at (610) 376-8669, Ext. 122, or by email at 

Other related links:

Warm Hand Off Goes 24/7

Camp Joy – Men’s Recovery House

Warm Handoff goes 24/7!

Warm Handoff Program Expansion
Around-the-clock Services Now Offered at Reading Hospital Emergency Room

In response to the epidemic of opioid overdoses in Berks County, through a contract with Treatment Access and Service Center (TASC) and in partnership with the local hospitals, COCA began a Warm Handoff initiative. This initiative was designed to reach out to opioid overdose survivors and engage them in the process of treatment and recovery. The Warm Handoff was set up to provide for a Recovery Support Specialist (RSS) to be “on call” and meet with opioid overdose survivors at the hospital emergency room and assist them in accepting and accessing addiction treatment. This “on-call” Warm Hand Off system has been in effect for over a year and has a remarkable success of between 60 and 70% of opiate overdose survivors being admitted for addiction treatment.

Beginning Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the initiative expanded its services and will now be operating 24/7 at the Reading Hospital Emergency Room. The Reading Hospital has the seventh busiest emergency room in the country. This new expansion will provide an RSS around-the-clock offering services not only to those people using opioids but to people with the problematic use of any substance, including alcohol. This will allow the RSS to immediately respond on site to referrals from the emergency room.

This initiative has been made possible through funding from the Council on Chemical Abuse, CCBH and Reading Hospital’s Centers of Excellence.

Are you interested in working as an RSS? Individuals must have 3+ years (if in recovery), be eligible to take CRS classes (if you do not possess CRS credentials) and have no current legal involvement.  $20/hour and $30/hour for holidays. Send resumes and cover letters to

Other related links:

“Your Bridge to Addiction Resources” – Hear from Mike Reese, a Certified Recovery Specialist, about working as part of the Warm Handoff program.

NEWS: Berks Recognized by State for “Warm Handoff” Efforts

Reading Eagle: Reading Hospital has 7th busiest emergency room in nation, publication says

Finding Hope Amid Tragedy – The Opioid Crisis in Berks County


In the midst of the opioid crisis, it may feel like we will never get out of it. Lives continue to be lost, and the fight seems to get harder. But in Berks County, there is hope to be found amid this current tragedy.

In this COCA publication, you will find articles highlighting just some of the great work being done in Berks County in the name of Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery services addressing the opioid crisis. This work can not be done alone, and the Council on Chemical Abuse recognizes that it is not just our efforts that better our community, but also the work of those organizations we work alongside and the many individuals dedicated to the drug & alcohol field. We hope after reading our report you will walk away knowing a little more about the work being done, and know that people do get well!

View an interactive version of the report below:

For information regarding programs and statistics for the 2015-16 Fiscal Year running July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016,  please CLICK HERE to download our Facts & Figures report.

Find additional resources related to this year’s publication:
Addiction to Heroin
Addiction to Prescription Medications
2016 Annual Conference News Post
How to Get Naloxone
Recovery & Me – Dan’s story
Treatment Options

EVENT: Pharm Party Prevention

Do you have unused or expired medications in your cabinet? Come out on Saturday, April 29 and drop them off!

Can’t make it to the event on April 29th?
No worries – Medication Drop Box locations are all over Berks County!
CLICK HERE to find the one nearest to you.

Screenagers Documentary Screening

Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
6:30 p.m.
Hamburg Strand Theatre
6 South 4th Street, Hamburg, PA 19526
FREE admission

Through poignant and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, Screenagers reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance. A COCA staff member will be part of a panel discussion about technology addiction.

2017 Pat Ganter Scholarship

Tassel Hanging on Pile of Textbooks2017 Pat Ganter Scholarship
Scholarship Deadline: Friday, April 21, 2017

Scholarship Information

The Council on Chemical Abuse is pleased to announce the 2017 Pat Ganter Scholarship. This $1,000 scholarship is available to a Berks County High School Senior who is active in substance abuse prevention in their school or community.

The student must be planning to pursue an education in one of the following areas: human services, behavioral health, social work, addictions studies, criminal justice, or psychology. The student must explain in a biographical statement how he or she plans to use this education to work with the addicted population.

Application Requirements

All applicants must provide the following information:
  • A completed application form
  • Two typed letters of reference (from teachers/school personnel)
  • A high school transcript (unofficial will be accepted)
  • A typed 1,000-word or less biographical statement composed by you, in which you discuss
    the following:

    • Your educational goals
    • Any community involvement (volunteer or service activities), special contributions you take pride in, or volunteer positions that promote community well-being or the well-being of individuals
    • Specific areas of personal or academic growth and achievement in high school that you want to share with the committee (including awards and honors)
    • How your educational paths supports your life goals and reflects your values

Scholarship Background:

Patricia Ganter, as a dedicated employee of the Council on Chemical Abuse and Caron Treatment Centers, was recognized by colleagues for her commitment to the field of addiction and recovery.

In her role as Administrative Assistant with these drug and alcohol organizations, Patricia joined a high degree of professionalism with a compassion for those challenged by addiction. With her optimistic demeanor, Patricia will long be remembered for her steadfast belief in the power of recovery.

Scholarship Deadline and Submission Information:

All scholarship applications and materials must be received by Friday, April 21, 2017.  Applicants can Apply Online or download an application and mail materials to the following address:
Council on Chemical Abuse – Pat Ganter Scholarship – 601 Penn Street – Suite 600 – Reading, PA 19601