Archive for the ‘News’ Category

NEWS: 2018 COCA Annual Conference

Trauma & Addiction: Healing the Hurt
The Council on Chemical Abuse’s 18th Annual Conference

Reading, PA (November 1, 2018) – Year 18 of the COCA Conference did not disappoint. Three hundred and fifteen professionals from Berks and surrounding counties spent a day learning about trauma and addiction.

Attendees were greeted in the morning by COCA Executive Director, Stanley Papademetriou and Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt as part of an announcement regarding the Berks Opioid Coalition – SOS Berks. SOS Berks is a coalition of Berks County community members who have come together in an effort to reduce overdose deaths and stem the negative effects of the current opioid crisis. Since the coalition was formed in December 2016, the group has been working hard to make a difference in Berks. Coalition leaders shared their accomplishments and assured that they are working hard to decrease overdose deaths in the community.

Following the announcement Keynote speaker, Cheryl Sharp addressed the connection between Trauma, Addiction, and Recovery.

Prior to participants engaging in their workshops, a panel discussion on healing from trauma gave attendees insight into the reality of the devastation of losing a loved one from the disease of addiction and the healing that takes place over time. Three individuals shared their stories and discussed how their lives have been impacted by trauma and how they hope to educate others.

Save the date for November 7, 2019!

For more information about SOS Berks CONNECT with them on Facebook, or visit their webpage HERE.

The COCA Annual Conference is brought to you by the following partners: The Council on Chemical Abuse, The Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/HealthChoices Programs of Berks County, Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, Berks County Children and Youth Services, and Substance Abuse Service Providers Association of Berks County.

Community Strong – Annual Report FY 2017/18

It takes an entire community to address an enormous problem such as addiction. 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. Read more in this year’s report about the services provided to the Berks County community through COCA. 

For further information regarding programs and statistics for the 2017/18 Fiscal Year running July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018, please CLICK HERE

Additional links related to this year’s publication:
SOS Berks
Upcoming Events
Treatment Options
Recovery – Resources for friends and family

Red Ribbon Week 2018

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 “Life is Your Journey, Travel Drug Free!” Once again, the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) is sponsoring the campaign by providing red ribbons to all Berks County schools. The 2018 Berks County campaign will run from October 22-26.

For more information and to request ribbons for your school or organization, please fill out the form below or contact Sarah Billman at (610) 376-8669, Ext. 106,

2018 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.

APPLY: Part Time Media Assistant

Part Time Media Assistant

We are seeking a PT bachelor level preferred professional to assist with social media, email marketing and web maintenance. Must be detail oriented and have project management skills. All candidates must be tobacco free. If in recovery, two years continuous sobriety preferred. Please send resume and cover letter to: Council on Chemical Abuse, 601 Penn St, Suite 600, Reading, PA 19601, fax (610) 376-8423 or apply online below by October 23, 2018. EOE

The online application form has been closed.

NEWS: Addiction Walk in Boyertown Raises Awareness

Boyertown, PA (October 6, 2018) – An event in Boyertown shed some light on addiction and the reality of how families have been affected by the current opioid crisis. The Addiction Awareness and Recovery Walk hosted by Brendan’s Band on Saturday, October 6. COCA attended as a table vendor with information about resources available to the community.

CLICK HERE to read the article from the Reading Eagle.

CLICK HERE to read the article from the Pottstown Mercury.

Related Links:

COCA in the News

Get Narcan® – Training

Opioid Overdose Recognition & Response
Thursday, September 13, 2018
7:00 p.m.
St. Ignatius Loyola Regional School
2700 St. Albans Drive, Reading, PA 19609
FREE Admission

The Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) and St. Ignatius Church would like to welcome interested community members for a FREE Narcan® training event. This training will provide information on addiction and how you can help in the unfortunate event of an opioid overdose. Participants will learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose, and how to respond using “hands-only” CPR and the life-saving medication Narcan®.

All Berks County residents who pre-register for this event will receive a free Narcan® Kit supplied by COCA. Narcan® is a brand name for Naloxone.

EVENT: 2018 COCA Annual Conference

Trauma & Addiction: Healing the Hurt
Crowne Plaza Hotel
1741 Papermill Rd, Wyomissing, PA
Thursday, November 1, 2018
7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $65

The 2018 Council on Chemical Abuse Annual Conference will examine trauma, especially as it relates to substance use disorders. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of trauma, and hear about effective approaches that are used to address this condition. A dynamic keynote address, six informative workshop presentations, and an impactful panel discussion will shine the light on this very important and serious topic. It is going to be a day you will not want to miss. VIEW this year’s conference brochure, which includes more details about the day.

The $65 registration fee includes the following:

  • Three Workshops – You may attend three of the six offered workshops.
  • Keynote Speaker – Cheryl Sharp, MSW, ALWF, Exclusive Consultant for Trauma-Informed Services and Suicide Prevention, National Council for Behavioral Health
  • Panel Discussion
  • 6 PCB credits (pending approval)
  • Breakfast & Lunch

We have had an overwhelmingly positive response this year for our conference. Unfortunately, we have reached capacity and are no longer taking registrations.

*Registrations and payments will not be taken the day of the conference*

NEWS: Local Group Donates Thousands to COCA

Berks County Black Balloon Group Donates Fundraising Efforts to COCA
Money Will Aid in Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Berks

August 21, 2018 (Reading, PA): “You shouldn’t deal with this alone, and you don’t have to,” said Pat Murray. He was talking about the grief and pain individuals, including himself, feel when a loved one dies from an overdose. Pat and his father Bill began the Berks County Black Balloon Facebook group, after discovering Black Balloon Day. This day is recognized on March 6 by hanging up black balloons to show affected by a drug overdose death.

On the night of March 12, 2018, more than 350 people gathered at the Wyomissing Family Restaurant & Bakery for the Inaugural Berks County “Black Balloon” event. The event was in honor of Christopher Murray, who was lost to a drug overdose 13 years ago. All the proceeds from the event were donated to the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) to continue efforts to prevent fatal overdoses and to educate the community about the harmful effects of opioids.

“It is inspiring to see a family and group stepping out from behind the shadows of sorrow and shame to bring attention to this devastating, and deadly opioid problem,” said COCA Executive Director, Stanley Papademetriou. “The efforts of the Murray family show courage and offers an example to the community that stigma does not have to win.”

“We quickly realized the impact was greater than we thought at our event in March. We were doing more than just hosting a buffet benefit fundraiser. That night we were telling people ‘There is hope. You too will heal from your loss,’” said Bill Murray.

“Raising the money was great, but even greater than that was being able to support and encouraged others, and to help break the stigma of addiction,” said Pat.

Berks County Black Balloon was created to increase awareness in Berks County of the opioid epidemic and its far-reaching negative impact. You can connect with Berks County Black Balloon on their Facebook Page:


About Council on the Chemical Abuse (COCA)

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.

Lunch & Learn – Pathways to Recovery

EVENT: Lunch & Learn – Pathways to Recovery
Monday, September 17, 2018
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Berks County Community Foundation – Board Room
237 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601
Trainer: Yvonne Stroman
Cost: FREE

Addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. For many, it is a way of living that is consumed with self-harm, shame, and hurt. In order to get better, individuals must learn a new way of living, thinking, and behaving. As the individual learns a new way of living, the road to wellness can be tailored to meet his/her specific needs. Help is available and people do recover. During this Lunch & Learn program, attendees will gain information regarding the various pathways to recovery including 12-step, faith-based, and cognitive behavior approaches. Information will be shared regarding what is available in our community to help individuals get well.

For more than 25 years, Yvonne Stroman has worked in the field of social services providing leadership, direction, support, education, advocacy, training and empowerment to individuals, families, and communities. She is currently employed with the Council on Chemical Abuse as the Community Programs Specialist.

About Lunch & Learn: These mid-day events are designed to accommodate the working schedule. CLICK HERE to see other upcoming Lunch & Learn dates.

Register for this event by filling in the form below.

SEPTEMBER: National Recovery Month

Every September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), sponsors National Recovery Month.  Now in its 29th year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need.

Each year, Recovery Month selects a new focus and theme to spread the message and share the successes of treatment and recovery. The 2018 Recovery Month observance will focus on urban communities, health care providers, members of the media, and policymakers, highlighting the various entities that support recovery within our society.

Information pulled from

This year’s events for National Recovery Month include:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 – Tune into our show on BCTV to hear about National Recovery Month and the events coming up!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 – Pathways to Recovery event at Atonement Lutheran Church

Saturday, September 22, 2018 – Recovery Walk/Soberstock event

CLICK HERE to view all the upcoming COCA events!

Translate »