Archive for the ‘News’ Category

2018 Pat Ganter Scholarship

Tassel Hanging on Pile of Textbooks2018 Pat Ganter Scholarship
Scholarship Deadline: Friday, April 20, 2018

Scholarship Information

The Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) is pleased to announce the 2018 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 path 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 20, 2018.  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

EVENT: Problem Gambling Awareness Event

EVENT: “Too Much to Lose… Gambling is Risky!” Problem Gambling Awareness Event
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
6 – 8:30 p.m.
GoggleWorks Center for the Arts
201 Washington St, Reading, PA 19601

Do you have questions about problem gambling?  The Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) invites you to a community event to learn more about problem gambling, and the resources available in the Berks County community. An art reception of posters created by students with the theme “Too Much to Lose… Gambling is Risky!” will be displayed.

6 p.m. Doors Open
6-6:30 p.m. Art Reception
6:30-8 p.m. Educational Program (Panel Discussion)
8-8:30 p.m. Art Reception & Refreshments

Panel discussion members: Josh Ercole, Chief Operating Officer from the Council on Compulsive Gambling of PA, Inc., Eric Webber, MA, CACD, CCP from Caron Treatment Centers, Mike Reese from the Council on Chemical Abuse, and Bob Schwartz a Berks County member in recovery from addiction to gambling

CLICK HERE to get updates on our Facebook event!

Building Upon a Legacy – Annual Report FY 2016/17

Since 1972, the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) has served the Berks County community, offering prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services in response to the disease of addiction. Leaders and staff over the last 46 years have laid a solid foundation, on which we are building upon today. In this year’s report, you will find current news and information on programs and resources available to Berks County residents.

For further information regarding programs and statistics for the 2016/17 Fiscal Year running July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017,  please CLICK HERE to download our Facts & Figures report.

View an interactive version of the report below:

Additional links related to this year’s publication:
How to Get Naloxone
Treatment Options
Recovery – Resources for friends and family

NEWS: New Show on WEEU Begins January 16!
NEWS: The New “Face” of the Council on Chemical Abuse
NEWS: COCA Executive Director to Retire After Four Decades of Leadership

Last year’s Annual Report focused on the Opioid Crisis. CLICK HERE to view.

NEWS: Berks Opioid Coalition Releases Pharmacy Naloxone Awareness Survey Results

February 8, 2018 (Reading, PA): The Berks Opioid Coalition is pleased to announce the results of a Pharmacy Naloxone Awareness Survey. The Berks Opioid Coalition is comprised of representatives of key sectors of the Berks County community including law enforcement, healthcare/hospitals, pharmacies, emergency medical services, drug and alcohol treatment, coroner’s office, education, and businesses. Ultimately, this Coalition seeks to both decrease the human toll and the public burden of the far-reaching opioid epidemic.

As part of its strategic plan, the Coalition determined the need to assess the local availability of Naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin). Naloxone accessibility was simplified statewide in 2016 when Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Physician General, issued a standing order. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the order was “intended to ensure that residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who are at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose, or who are family members, friends or other persons who are in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose, are able to obtain Naloxone.”

The purpose of the Pharmacy Naloxone Awareness Survey was to determine whether Berks County pharmacies were aware of the standing order, whether the pharmacies stocked Naloxone, and whether the pharmacies billed insurance for the medication. Guidance in the development of the survey was provided by the University of Pittsburgh Technical Assistance Center. From October to December 2017, onsite surveys were conducted at a total of 43 pharmacies throughout Berks County including both chain stores and private businesses.

The survey results are as follows:

  • Question One: Would you honor the Naloxone standing order?
    44% reported that the standing order would be honored, 40% were not aware of the standing order and 16% indicated “no or not yet.”
  • Question Two: Do you currently have Naloxone in stock?
    56% of the pharmacies reported that Naloxone was in stock and 44% did not currently stock the medication.
  • Question Three: Do you bill insurance for Naloxone?
    70% responded that they would bill insurance, 19% responded “no” or “not yet,” and 11% of the pharmacies responded, “only if prescribed by a physician” (i.e. not the standing order).

These survey findings clearly demonstrate that Naloxone is not uniformly accessible across Berks County. Therefore the recommendation of the Berks Opioid Coalition would be the development and implementation of a pharmacy education program focusing on improved Naloxone accessibility including the application of the Physician General’s standing order.

# # #

Related links:

How to Get Naloxone

NEWS: Drugstores can dispense naloxone, but many Berks pharmacists don’t know that

NEWS: Illegal Gambling Concerns Ahead of Super Bowl

February 1, 2018 – Did you know sports betting is illegal in Pennsylvania? There are only 4 states where sports betting is legal, Delaware being one of them. Billions of dollars will be spent on illegal betting on the Superbowl this year. NBC 10 Philadelphia reports on the concerns.

CLICK HERE to watch the report.


Related links:

Addictions – Problem Gambling

The Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, Inc.

NEWS –  NBC10 Responds: Illegal Gambling Concerns Ahead of Super Bowl

NEWS: Grant will expand efforts to reduce opioid deaths in Berks County

Reading, PA (January 11, 2018) – The Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA), on behalf of the Berks Opioid Coalition, has received a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to assist in efforts to reduce opioid overdose deaths in our county. The work for this grant will run through the 2018 calendar year and will include working with local stakeholders, Berks County businesses, partnered organizations, including churches, community groups, and individuals.

Grant funds will support projects focused in the following areas:

Stigma Reduction

The stigma surrounding opioid use disorders and overdoses remains a significant barrier to individuals and families seeking help. By engaging the community in discussions, the Coalition will move ahead to develop community awareness and education programs to address stigma issues.

Workplace Education

Through collaboration with the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Berks County Society of Human Resources Managers, Berks County worksites will be connected with timely information and resources regarding opioid drugs.

Prevention and Recovery Magazine

A magazine, published in coordination with the Berks County Medical Society and Hoffman Publishing Group, will focus on important opioid awareness topics. The publication will be printed twice a year at locations including worksites, doctor and dentist offices, medical clinics, schools, universities, hair and nail salons, senior centers, churches, and social service agencies.

Family Education

Berks Counseling Center will implement Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), an evidence-based educational program, designed to educate family members regarding substance use disorders and how they can best support the recovery process.


The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) “provides leadership in system-wide coordination and in building collaboration among public servants and private citizens representing all aspects of the criminal and juvenile justice systems and victim services.” Read more about PCCD HERE.

NEWS ALERT: Gov. Wolf announces disaster declaration for the heroin and opioid epidemic

January 10, 2018 – This afternoon, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a Statewide Disaster Declaration for the heroin and opioid epidemic. “This is huge,” said Stanley Papademetriou, Executive Director of the Council on Chemical Abuse. “The governor is using his authority to declare the opioid crisis a statewide disaster emergency, something that is usually only announced for severe weather or other natural disasters. This declaration affirms how rampant and widespread the opioid problem in our state and community has become.”

“We applaud the governor for taking this bold step to address this deadly epidemic,” said Papademetriou.

Here are two takeaways from the Governor’s announcement:

  • Emergency Medical Services are now enabled to leave behind Naloxone, for those individuals who may not agree to be transported to an emergency room
  • The Face-to-face Physician requirement for admission to Medication-Assisted Treatment will be waived, allowing individuals to access treatment quicker

Other key initiatives that will now be available through this declaration is outline HERE

Other related links:

NEWS: Governor Wolf Declares Heroin and Opioid Epidemic a Statewide Disaster Emergency (

NEWS: Pa. opioid ‘disaster emergency’ plans to help Berks facility (WFMZ)

DOWNLOAD: Governor Wolf’s Disaster Declaration Fact Sheet

REQUEST a FREE Naloxone Kit from the Council on Chemical Abuse

NEWS: New Show on WEEU Begins January 16!

Your Bridge to Addiction Resources
COCA Joins WEEU for a Monthly Broadcast

Reading, PA (January 8, 2017) – Do you know about the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA)? Starting on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, tune into WEEU (830 AM radio) to hear the happenings of COCA during their new monthly show!

“All of us at COCA are excited about our new partnership with WEEU. We look forward to using this monthly one-hour radio broadcast to bring information to the Berks County community,” said Stanley Papademetriou, COCA Executive Director.

Listeners will hear about drug and alcohol issues, services available to the Berks County community, as well as, stories of recovery and hope.  All shows will run from 11 a.m. to noon during a feature hour with Mike Faust from WEEU. Guests for the show will include COCA staff, board members, and others who have connected with COCA through community partnerships or services.

Dates for the upcoming shows:

Tuesday, January 16 at 11 a.m. – This month’s show will focus on who the Council on Chemical Abuse is, resources available, and what work COCA does. Guests include Yvonne Stroman, Jennifer Kaucher, and Stanley Papademetriou.

Tuesday, February 10 at 11 a.m.

Monday, March 19 at 11 a.m.

Monday, April 16 at 11 a.m.

For more information about COCA, visit their website at or connect with them on Facebook.

NEWS: Warm Handoff Program to Expand in 2018

Warm Handoff Program to Expand in 2018

Reading, PA (December 20, 2017) – Individuals suffering from opioid withdrawal and overdoses are arriving daily to our emergency rooms. As the number of drug overdose fatalities continue to soar, local hospital emergency rooms have been identified as a critical point of intervention. In response to this, COCA began a Warm Handoff initiative through a contract with Treatment Access and Service Center (TASC) and in partnership with the local hospitals.

This initiative was designed to reach out to opioid overdose survivors and engage them in the process of treatment and recovery. Only individual surviving an overdose or showing signs of an opioid withdrawal were visited, now any individual showing signs of a substance use disorder are included in the program. Once the patient is medically stable, they are met by a Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) to discuss accepting and accessing treatment for a substance use disorder. Certified Recovery Specialists are employees of TASC and credentialed by the Pennsylvania Certification Board.

Since the inception of the Berks County Warm Handoff Program in 2015, over 500 individuals with substance use disorders have received services from the Warm Handoff.  Due to the program’s success, the program now runs 24/7 at the Reading Hospital, and an “on-call” system will begin at St. Joseph Penn State Hospital in early 2018.

This initiative has been made possible through funding from the Council on Chemical Abuse, Community Care Behavioral Health Organization (CCBH) and Reading Hospital’s Centers of Excellence.

Other related links:

READING EAGLE: Drug Treatment Program Expanding to Penn State Health St. Joseph Hospital in Berks Township

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

NEWS: Warm Handoff goes 24/7!

Esperanza para Berks Brings Together the Latino Community

Over 50 people gathered on Sunday, November 12, 2017 for a program entirely in Spanish to discuss “Addiction & the family.” This was the second gathering of the program, entitled Esperanza para Berks. The event was created to provide information and resources related to addiction to the Spanish-speaking population of Berks County.

“Just like we see all over the country – many times there is a lot of shame associated with a family member’s addiction.  The difference here is that the population in Reading is primarily Spanish speaking and due to that there are specific needs,” said Jobany Bedoya, Small Business and Latino Outreach Coordinator for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. Bedoya is the event committee chair, as well as, a Board Member of the Council on Chemical Abuse.

The November 12 event included a keynote presentation, a personal recovery story, and a panel discussion. The keynote speaker, Dr. Paula Sanchez is a licensed professional counselor. Her practice has specialized in the delivery of substance use and mental health treatment from a cultural perspective. Dr. Sanchez keynote address focused on how addiction affects a family.

Jose “Tony” Candelario shared his experience of coming into recovery after decades of drug use, and how it affected him and his family. Tony currently is very involved with his church and works as a drug & alcohol counselor in Berks County.

Attendees had the opportunity to present their questions to Sanchez, Candelario, and a panel of drug and alcohol professionals. The panelists included Marcia Garcia from Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC), Juan Ramirez from PA Counseling, Ricardo Jarquin who talked about Spanish help groups, Marlene Lopez from Children & Youth Services, and Rev. Ferdinand Vargas from Iglesia Nueva Esperanza, Inc.

Discussion included information about drug & alcohol treatment services available for Spanish-speaking clients, family support and information about Family Group Decision Making, FGDM, a program offered through Children Youth & Services.

This event was the second of its kind. The first Esperanza para Berks was held in October of 2016, with a focus on addiction as a brain disease. Since that first event, the YMCA of Reading & Berks County opened their first housing option for Spanish-speaking only clients. For more information about Spanish speaking services in Berks, CLICK HERE to download a guide to COCA-partnered organizations.

Esperanza para Berks is a unique program, and it’s changing the atmosphere of our community as we discuss the needs of the Latino population in Berks,” said Bedoya.