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.

** 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.

NEWS: “When I Hear Addiction, I See Hope” – Literary Contest

Have you, a friend, or family member struggled with addiction? Have you finally broken free to experience the joy of a life without drugs and alcohol? Tell us your story! Join the Berks HOPE literary contest!

Contest runs from October 2nd to November 15th, 2017. This event is sponsored by Berks HOPE (Helping Others/Providing Expertise).

Berks HOPE is a consortium of local and nationally renowned addiction experts and concerned community members dedicated to making the resources for fighting addiction more accessible. Berks HOPE members include the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, Caron Treatment Centers, Common Ground Recovery Ministry, Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA), Easy Does It, Embrace the Challenge, Reading Health System, Treatment Access Services Center Inc. (TASC), Berks County Medical Society and the Reading School District.

CLICK HERE to learn more about this contest!

Lottery = Gambling

Playing the lottery is a form of gambling, and gambling is a form of addiction. It can be just as neurologically addictive as a substance abuse. Warning signs of problem gambling (with respect to the lottery) may include trying to control, cut back or stop the purchase of lottery tickets, without success, feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down, or trying to get back lost money by gambling more/buying more tickets (chasing losses).

Help is available through the FREE 24-hour helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER.

Watch a recent segment with WFMZ about gambling and the lottery HERE.

Other related links

Problem Gambling

NEWS: The New “Face” of the Council on Chemical Abuse



The New “Face” of the Council on Chemical Abuse
Announcement Reveals the Next Executive Director

Reading, PA: A familiar face will be stepping into the Executive Director position at the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) beginning September 25. Announced today, the Board of Directors selected Stanley J. Papademetriou as the third leader of the organization.

Papademetriou currently serves as COCA’s Drug & Alcohol Assistant Administrator and has worked with the organization for over 30 years. Hired by COCA in 1985 as a Youth/Adult Case Manager, he has worked closely within all areas of drug and alcohol services in Berks County.

“It is truly exciting to hire COCA’s next Executive Director,” said Search Committee and Board Secretary, Jobany Bedoya. “We have confidence that Stan will be a great leader at the Council on Chemical Abuse, and I am honored to have been part of the search process.”

When asked what he plans to do as the new “face of COCA,” Papademetriou said he will maintain and, where appropriate, enhance COCA’s current prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery activities. Papademetriou said he will also seek to expand services to underserved populations. “Not all members of our community seek out or take advantage of existing services. Addiction is too serious an issue for individuals not to use any and every resource available to combat this devastating and deadly disease,” he said.

Papademetriou’s extensive resume includes playing an integral role in the establishment of Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC) as a private non-profit organization. He served as its first Executive Director for two years and in 1994 came back to COCA as the Drug and Alcohol Program Specialist. He is a Certified Recovery Specialist with a Master of Public Administration degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling/Administration.

“I have been, and always will be, grateful for my years being with COCA. Now, as Executive Director, I plan to use my experience to lead the organization into continued success for years to come,” said Papademetriou.

“This is a deserving appointment by the Board. I could not be happier with the Board’s decision, to hire Stan as my successor. As someone who has worked with Stan for many years, I have no doubt he will continue the gains we have made over the past many years,” said George J. Vogel, Jr., the outgoing Executive Director.

In June, Vogel announced his retirement, which becomes effective this Sept. 30. As a result of Vogel’s retirement announcement, a search committee was established consisting of five COCA Board members, the current Executive Director and Dr. Edward Michalik, the Administrator for the County’s Office of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Aging.


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.

To learn more please visit

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

EVENT: 2017 COCA Annual Conference

The Blame & Shame of Addiction
Crowne Plaza Hotel
1741 Papermill Rd, Wyomissing, PA
Thursday, November 2, 2017
7:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Far too often, individuals hide their addiction and do not ask for help, fearful of others discovering their reality. Families believe they cannot speak out about their loved one’s addiction without being ostracized. The power of stigma is real and it brings feelings of judgment, guilt, and embarrassment. This year’s conference will focus on blaming and shaming language and behaviors that feed the stigma, hindering individuals from seeking the help they so desperately need.

Addiction, treatment, and recovery have been spoken about in hushed tones. It is time we initiate bold and courageous conversations. Together, we can dismantle the barriers that have obstructed healing. We can, and we will move beyond the stigma.

Please join us for a day you will remember. This year’s new format allows for you to attend 3 of the 5 workshops, as well as a panel discussion. Workshops chosen for this conference have been selected based on topics requested by our past participants. It is going to be a day you will not want to miss.

REGISTER NOW for the 2017 COCA Annual Conference!

Conference Agenda

7:45 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. Registration and Light Breakfast
8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Welcome/Opening Remarks
8:30 a.m. – 9:20 a.m. Keynote Presentation
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Panel Presentation
10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Workshop A
12:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. Lunch & Awards Presentation
1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Workshop B
2:35 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. Workshop C
3:50 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Evaluation & Certificates

Keynote Speaker

Marty Boldin

Marty Boldin is a person in long-term recovery who speaks about the secrecy, stigma, and shame that surround addiction and recovery. Marty details the serious consequences for individuals, families, and communities when stigma is attached. In his candid, moving presentation, Boldin explains the cost of addiction and why removing stigma is so important and just may be the key to many issues that we face today.

Marty battled depression, alcohol and drug misuse for many years until October of 1987 when he began his journey in recovery. He is now a husband, a father, a respected addiction scientist, an award winning social work professional, and a community activist seeking to promote the American Recovery Movement. Marty Boldin, LICSW, MLADC, LCS, CPS, CPM is currently a Dean’s Fellow & PhD Student at the Boston University School of Social Work. Marty has been involved with the development and implementation of several social service initiatives in a variety of multi-disciplinary settings across the United States and around the world. Beyond his extensive clinical experience, he has also contributed to executive leadership roles in Government and Non-Profit sectors.

Marty’s research interests include Addiction Stigma, Trauma and Addiction Interaction, and Alcohol and Drug Policy. Most recently his research has focused on the impact of addiction stigma on persons in long-term recovery. By collecting data on the lived experiences of persons in long-term recovery, Marty hopes to find clues to improve the American social climate for addiction remedy and thereby increase the likelihood that more people will engage in and benefit from recovery.

Conference Workshops

New this year, attendees will be able to attend 3 of the 5 workshops. Please click a workshop for a brief description and presenter information.






REGISTER TODAY for the 2017 COCA Annual Conference!

Annual Conference Award Nominations

Our 2017 conference award winners will be recognized during lunch. These individuals and/or organizations have exemplified the highest standards in the areas of addiction prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services. To nominate an individual or agency, please call the Conference Coordinator at (610) 376-8669, Ext. 123, or nominate online HERE by October 14, 2017.

We thank our partnered Conference Sponsors!

Berks County Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/HealthChoices Program  – Berks County’s Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/HealthChoices Program is regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. In collaboration with the Council on Chemical Abuse, oversight of the behavioral health component of the HealthChoices Program is provided.

Community Care Behavioral Health Organization

Berks County Children and Youth Services

Substance Abuse Service Providers Association of Berks County

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 Handoff 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