Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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


3/9/18 – Wolf Administration Continues to Address Opioid Crisis, Assisting Individuals with Opioid-Use Disorder Needing Birth Certificates

3/5/18 – Weekly Update: Supporting Pennsylvania’s Workers, Fighting the Opioid Crisis, and Learning How to Best Combat Gun Violence

3/2/18 – Governor Wolf Accelerates Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (Round-up)

3/1/18 – Governor Wolf Announces End to Policy that Delays Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

2/7/18 – Wolf Administration Officials Provide Update on Opioid Emergency Initiatives (Round-Up)

2/2/18 – Weekly Update: Advocating for Fair Congressional Maps, Fighting the Opioid Epidemic, Betting on the Eagles

1/29/18 – Governor Wolf Urges Passage of Pending Legislation to Combat Opioid Epidemic Amid Disaster Declaration

1/19/18 – Weekly Update: Creating New Jobs, Combatting the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic, and Improving Education Standards

1/16/18 – Governor Wolf Asks President for More Federal Support to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

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.

Thank you!

Thank you to all those who attended the 2017 Council on Chemical Abuse Annual Conference. It was a great day, with about 350 attending. Every year we are blown away by the positive responses. We hope to see you next year!

To download copies of the powerpoint presentations, please click on the workshop below.






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!