Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

CLICK HERE to see the event flyer.

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

NEWS: “Warm Handoff” Workers are Needed

The “Warm Handoff” was established to respond to overdose survivors. Once the individual is medically stable, a Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) meets with the survivor on site at the hospital and assists them in engaging in treatment and recovery services. This initiative is provided through a contract with Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC).

In Berks County, Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) services have emerged to provide around-the-clock assistance. These peer-to-peer recovery services have demonstrated positive outcomes across the nation, including a dramatic drop in crisis contacts and hospitalizations, less alcohol and drug use, improved living situations, and enhanced income and health, as compared to individuals not receiving these support services. Locally, CRS services have shown to be helpful in assisting individuals who are confronted with significant challenges, to complete treatment and reduce barriers to achieving long-term recovery.

Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC) is currently seeking PART TIME employees for the Warm Hand-Off (WHO) program, working out of the Emergency Department at the Reading Hospital in West Reading, PA. CLICK HERE to learn more information. 

NEWS: Time to Talk Parent Program March 27!



It’s Time to Talk!
Empowering parents to start the conversation with their children about drugs & alcohol

Reading, PA: “Parents are the first line of defense in the prevention of young adult drug and alcohol use,” says Alicia Kline, Prevention Specialist at the Council on Chemical Abuse, “Teaching our children about the dangers of drug and alcohol is more than having ‘the talk’ but rather engaging our children in a continual conversation that develops alongside them.”

The Time to Talk parent program was developed last year and has gained momentum over the last few months as requests for the program have increased. Time to Talk provides parents with the knowledge and the skills necessary to start this growing conversation about drugs and alcohol. The program was specifically designed for parents of children of all ages, elementary through college.

“This is not about us telling parents how to parent, this is about encouraging parents to start talking about drugs and alcohol – and to share with them some tools they can use to do that,” says Kline. Prevention experts discuss how and when to start the conversation with your child about drugs and alcohol, adding to what they call the parent “tool box.” Topics during this presentation include the following:

  • Conversation tips/starters
  • How to Listen
  • Age-tailored situations
  • When children are at higher risk for use
  • Warning signs of us

“You don’t need to be a parent to be an influence and to attend and to benefit from this program,” said Jaclyn Steed, Prevention Manager with the Council on Chemical Abuse. Other “adults of influence” are also invited, including teachers, coaches, grandparents, aunts/uncles, mentors, and any others who want to learn more about talking with the children in their life about drugs and alcohol.

Come Monday, March 27, 2017, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. for Time to Talk at Saint Andrew United Methodist Church, located at 611 Swamp Creek Road, Bechtelsville, PA. This event is free and open to the public. Child care will be provided. CLICK HERE to see the event flyer.

To learn more about the Council on Chemical Abuse and Time to Talk, please visit

NEWS: Berks County Opioid Task Force


“Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. No one is immune,” said David Reyher, Instructor of Behavioral Health at Alvernia University. Reyher was one of three professionals presenting at the Berks County Opioid Task Force meeting on Friday, March 10, 2017. About 50 professionals representing Berks County gathered for a meeting at the Reading Hospital to address the opioid crisis in Berks County.

The March 10 meeting opened with a presentation from Berks County District Attorney John Adams on the supply of drugs, specifically heroin and other opioids in Berks County. Adams said 95 investigations were focused on heroin last year, an increase when compared to years past when most investigations were focused on cocaine. A big difference with the increase of heroin as opposed to cocaine is that heroin leads to more deaths, due to the nature of the drug. The combination of purity, availability and low pricing of heroin has created a lethal situation in our region. The question of other synthetic opioids also came up to which Adams responded, “Fentanyl is a huge problem.”

“Anything fentanyl touches, it kills,” said Chief County Detective Michael J. Gombar. According to the National institute on Drug Abuse, Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. It is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery but can be found on the streets. Fentanyl is being found cut in with heroin and cocaine throughout the county, and it is a great concern to law enforcement because of the ability to be absorbed through contact with skin. We applaud the Berks County DA’s office for their continued work to get drugs off our streets!

For individuals suffering from addiction coming to get treatment, Dan Milloy, Executive Director of Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC), noted that heroin, alcohol and marijuana are the top three drugs.  Work to get individuals into treatment continues, with TASC offering a “Warm Handoff” to those who show up in the emergency from an overdose or with severe opioid withdrawal symptoms. Berks has been successful in getting individuals into treatment with this program. To read more about the “Warm Handoff” program, please CLICK HERE.

“Without demand, supply wouldn’t be an issue,” said David Reyher, Professor of Behavioral Health at Alvernia University, in response to how addiction is the driving force behind why the supply of drugs seems to be so plentiful. “Addiction is a disease of ‘non-choice’ not ‘bad choice,’ “said Reyher. Kathy Noll, Data Analyst for the Council on Chemical Abuse and adjust professor of Behavioral health at Alvernia University spoke to the task force about how addiction works. “In addiction the brain is hijacked at the level of basic survival (eat, fight, procreate) and the drug of choice becomes #1,” Noll explained.

Lead by Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt and George Vogel, Executive Director, Council on Chemical Abuse, the Berks County Opioid Task Force has been established to assess and respond to the local impact of the opioid epidemic. With guidance from the University of Pittsburgh, the task force has gathered momentum rather quickly and meets on a quarterly basis.  Goals of the task force include community awareness and lowering heroin-related deaths. Members are in committees focused on community safety, education and prevention, community awareness and outreach, data collection/assessment and healthcare and treatment.

Committee members were asked to place their discussion and direction into the following format:

  • Goals – What as a committee they are looking to achieve
  • Rationale – Thinking behind the set goals
  • Approach – Action steps to address goals

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Kick Butts Day


What is Kick Butts Day?

Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. The next Kick Butts Day is March 15, 2017. Kick Butts Day is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The first Kick Butts Day was held in 1996.

What events happen in Berks County?

Every year, the Council on Chemical Abuse participates with local high schools to provide tobacco education around this day. “There’s no reason to quit if you don’t start in the first place,” says Sarah Billman, Prevention Specialist. This year on Wednesday, March 15 we will be picking up cigarette butts around the high school building, and on Friday, March 17 we will be meeting with  students to provide fun educational activities during lunch. Read about what the Council did for Kick Butts Day in 2016 and 2015.

For more information about Kick Butts Day visit their website at

The Council on Chemical Abuse provides countywide leadership in the development and implementation of policies, programs and a system of prevention and intervention services that prevent the onset of illegal alcohol, tobacco and drug use and treatment services that promote recovery from addiction to all substances.