Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

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.

Online registration is now closed. We encourage you to still attend the event, but we can not guarantee to have a Narcan kit for you tonight. Thank you for your interest and we hope to see you later!

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.

BCTV Drug & Alcohol Update

big_bctv_logo2_400x400COCA’s Drug & Alcohol Update
“Life in Recovery”
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Berks County Television (BCTV)

6:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Join us for this month’s BCTV show with your host Yvonne Stroman. September’s show will talk about life in recovery from an addiction to drug and alcohol. National Recovery Month is recognized every September, and this year there are some great events coming up in Berks. CLICK HERE to watch the show live online at 6 p.m. on 8/1/18.

Recent Drug & Alcohol Update Shows

July 2018: Join us for this month’s BCTV show with your host Yvonne Stroman. This month’s show is on the topic of youth and addiction. The show will include information regarding accessing drug and alcohol treatment for youth. CLICK HERE to watch the show online.

June 2018: Watch this month’s show and hear from Jonathan Murphy, a Certified Recovery Support Specialist from Berks TASC. CLICK HERE to watch the show.

May 2018:  Yvonne is joined by Sarah Billman, a Prevention Specialist with COCA and the Underage Drinking Program Coordinator. Tune in to hear about this program for underage youth with alcohol-related charges. CLICK HERE to watch the show.

April 2018: Do your students have questions about prescription drugs and heroin? Prevention Specialist, Alicia, joins Yvonne on this month’s show to talk about the educational program developed by COCA to address the opioid crisis in schools. CLICK HERE to watch the show about “Clear & Present Danger.”

March 2018: Kick Butts Day has become a yearly event in Berks County. Through a partnership with the JROTC at the Reading Intermediate High School, students participate in tobacco prevention education. On this month’s show, Teresa joins Yvonne, along with two students, to talk about tobacco prevention and Kick Butts Day.

February 2018: What is problem gambling? Gambling is often called the “silent addiction.” Loved ones are unsure of how to get help, or they may have no idea of their loved one’s addiction to gambling. Join host Yvonne Stroman as she discusses problem gambling with Mike Reese and Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz.

January 2018: We started out the new year with a show “About COCA and Community Awareness.” Who is COCA? What work is done through the COCA office? How does the public know about COCA funded services and events? Join host Yvonne Stroman and Jennifer Kaucher as they discuss the ins and outs of the Council on Chemical Abuse community awareness and media. CLICK HERE to watch.

December 2017: The year is just about over, and with that brings the joys and challenges of the holiday season. Tune in to BCTV  to learn about a program that has been developed to help overdose survivors who are in hospital emergency rooms get the help they need to gain immediate access to drug treatment. The program, developed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP),  is designed to avoid merely giving survivors a phone number to call or setting up a subsequent appointment a day or two later. The handoff of care allows patients and families to hear about treatment options and engages patients and families in communication, giving them the opportunity to ask questions about their care and increase their chances of getting treatment. CLICK HERE to watch the show.

November 2017: Watch November’s show and learn a little bit about problem gambling. Louise Foote from Caron Counseling talks on the subject of this “silent addiction.” CLICK HERE to watch it online!

October 2017: October’s show focused on Project Peace and the mentoring they do with students in middle and elementary schools. CLICK HERE to watch it online!

September 2017:  Keith Stoudt, Mike Reese & Yvonne Stroman talk about celebrating recovery and the Recovery Walk & Soberstock coming up Saturday, September 23, 2017. CLICK HERE to see the show online.

August 2017:  Hear first-hand from a parent of a child now in recovery from addiction. Tune in to watch “Addiction within the Family” HERE!

July 2017:  Yvonne Stroman, Melani Calabria from Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC) talk about services provided by TASC. CLICK HERE to watch this show online.

June 2017:  Yvonne spoke with Prevention Specialist Alicia Kline to talk about Prevention in the Parks! Watch the show online HERE.

May 2017: Tune into this month’s show HERE to see host Yvonne speak with two high school students about their views on drugs and alcohol use.

April 2017: Watch as high school students share their perspective on drug abuse in schools with Yvonne Stroman. CLICK HERE to watch the show online.

March 2017: This month two Reading Intermediate High School students from the JROTC program joined Yvonne to talk about the upcoming Kick Butts Day events. CLICK HERE to watch this month’s show online.

February 2017: February’s show focused on the upcoming Berks HOPE event on February 22. CLICK HERE to watch online.

January 2017: Sam Albert from Recovery Coaching Services joined Yvonne for this January’s show. CLICK HERE to watch online.

Click below to view more past shows:

2016 Shows
2015 Shows
2014 Shows

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.

REGISTER: LUNCH & LEARN - Pathways to Recovery

PLEASE NOTE: Once your registration is received, COCA will review your information and you will receive a confirmation email.

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!

SOS Berks: Stop Overdoses… Save Lives


About SOS Berks

SOS Berks is Berks County’s Opioid Coalition. This coalition is coming together in an effort to reduce overdose deaths and to stem the negative effects of the current opioid crisis. SOS Berks members include representatives from criminal justice, healthcare, human services, education, local businesses, drug and alcohol treatment, and other concerned citizens.

Join an upcoming event:

Narcan Training
Thursday, September 13, 2018

7:00 p.m.
St. Ignatius School Loyola Regional School
2700 St. Albans Drive, Reading, PA 19609
Cost: FREE

This training will provide information on addiction and how you can help in the unfortunate event of an opioid overdose. CLICK HERE for more information. All Berks County residents who pre-register for this event will receive a free Narcan Kit supplied by COCA.

Community Presentation
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

6:30 p.m.
Boyertown Community Library
24 N. Reading Ave., Boyertown, PA 19512
Cost: FREE

Join members of SOS Berks for a community presentation about the opioid crisis.

Check out the first issue of “The Response” – A Berks County, PA Opioid Coalition Magazine

Lunch & Learn: What’s Up with Weed?

“What You Need to Know About Marijuana in Pennsylvania”
Monday, August 20, 2018
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Trinty Lutheran Church
527 Washington Street, Reading PA 19601
Trainer: Martha Thompson
Cost: FREE

Over half of the states in our country have now legalized medical marijuana. In 2016, legislature for medical marijuana was passed in Pennsylvania. Join us for this ever-changing conversation on August 20, 2018, at a Lunch & Learn program with Dr. Martha Thompson. The discussion will include trends for marijuana in PA and the US, and current legal changes in our state. Dr. Thompson will share research on this topic and helpful tips to on how to work with youth and adults around medical marijuana.

The presentation will be made by Dr. Martha Thompson. Dr. Martha Thompson has been providing direct clinical care in mental health and addictions since 1999. Her passion for helping others grow to their best drives her personally and professionally.

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.

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

Please join us for our 2018 Annual Conference. More details and conference registration will be available September 21. 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
  • Breakfast AND lunch are provided

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

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