“Your Bridge to Addiction Resources” with The People Chronicles

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Hear about what COCA provides for the county from staff, contractors, board members, those who have received county services and more. “Your Bridge to Addiction Resources” is hosted by Yvonne Stroman and Jennifer Kaucher. Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter or our channel with the People Chronicles to hear our new stories every week!

Accessing Services for Youth | Meet Melani Calabria

According to the National Center on Substance Abuse, over 10 million high school students have used addictive substances including tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine; 1 in 5 meet the medical criteria for addiction. Accessing treatment for addiction is an inclusive process which includes an assessment to determine appropriate level of care. Treatment Access Services Center (TASC) is the licensed central unit intake provider that provides assessments to help youth get the professional help that they need to address their substance use disorder. Lead Clinical Evaluator, Melani Calabria says that TASC provides public funding for youth to enter into treatment who do not have their own private insurance. Melanie states young people who are referred to TASC for a drug and alcohol assessment usually do not feel they have a problem. Melanie takes time to formulate a bond with the youth so they feel comfortable sharing their alcohol and drug history. Malanie says in-patient treatment care is more readily available for youth than it is for adults and she works collaboratively with parents, schools, and youth-serving programs and agencies to ensure youth have received the appropriate services they need. Melanie says appointments to schedule assessments are available Monday –Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Kutztown Strong | Meet Guidance Counselor, Andrew Brett

A rapid response to situations impacting our communities can often result in a long-lasting effect on the community. In 2014, Guidance Counselor, Andrew Brett and dozens of residents in the Kutztown Borough formed Kutztown Strong formed to address the problems in the community which were contributing to the use opioids among youth. Community members concerned about the health and wellness of the young people assembled at Kutztown High School desiring to make a difference.

Andrew states that the group of individuals includes business owners, law enforcement, school officials, students as well as local non-profit agencies. The group has implemented several evidence-based programs for grades k – 12 to help youth make good decisions and provide education and awareness. Kutztown Strong also developed its own student survey, which is disseminated annually to determine if there the implementation of the programs have urged youth to reduce or refrain from using drugs.

Drug Treatment Court: An Alternative to Incarceration

For the past 18 years, Jorge Acevedo has worked at Pennsylvania Counseling Services as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor.  Jorge provides therapeutic counseling, support, and referrals to individuals seeking a pathway to a better way of living.   Jorge also represents Pennsylvania Counseling Services as a treatment provider for individuals participating in Drug Treatment Court, a diversionary program which provides intensive supervision and treatment services to those individuals who have criminal charges for crimes related to their addiction.  Drug Treatment Court provides a structure and direction to its participants in hopes of encouraging participants to make lifestyle changes.  Participation in the programs ranges from 12 – 18 months, although Jorge states, its can be longer depending upon an individual’s motivation to follow direction and maintain compliance with program expectations. Jorge believes Drug Treatment Court can benefit many individuals and gave an example of a recent graduate who was able to get her criminal record expunged due to successfully fulfilling the requirements of Drug Treatment Court.

Common Ground Recovery Community

The faith-based community – more specifically – churches, have a long-standing history of providing space to community-based groups in an effort to allow individuals representative of different backgrounds, groups, and interests to meet, fellowship and help one another.  So, when Common Ground Ministries got started in 2009 within the structure and framework of Atonement Lutheran Church, it appeared to be a perfect fit.  Speaking with Tom Scornavacchi, he states Common ground Ministries provides educational speaker series, fellowship opportunities, safe space, as well as referral and support for individuals new to recovery and beyond.  Common Ground Ministries are currently in two locations – Atonement Lutheran Church in Wyomissing and Holy Trinity Church in Reading.  Tom says the work he enjoys the work he does and finds it to be incredibly miraculous in energizing ways.

Understanding to Compassion

Since becoming a Board Member for the Council on Chemical Abuse, Michael Kaucher says his eyes have been opened to the reality of addiction and the hope of recovery. “You see it everywhere,” he says in response to the question regarding the occurrence of addiction. As Executive Director of the Berks Conference of Churches, Kaucher sees how the church body can be a strong force of awareness. With connection to over 450 churches in Berks County, he hopes to increase opportunities for education on addiction to the faith community. Tune in to hear from Michael as he is interviewed by his daughter Jennifer!

Emergency Medical Services: Saving Lives

The Topton American Legion Community Ambulance Services provide Basic and Advanced Life Support to the community involving eleven different municipalities. Their goal is to provide the best quality care to the people they serve. In 2015, Topton Ambulance responded to over 1200 calls. Tyler Bard, Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the ambulance company has been involved with Topton Ambulance Services for the past 10 years. Tyler states he has always wanted to help others and his passion grew even more when he attended EMT classes. In his role, Tyler works in collaboration with the Council on Chemical Abuse to facilitate training for the residents of Berks County about Naloxone and how to treat someone who has overdosed from using opioids. Naloxone also known as Narcan is an opioid antagonist and reverses the effects of opioid overdose. Tyler states it is important that individuals administering Naloxone receive training on how to administer the drug and to contact 911. Tyler says that he has administered Naloxone and believes everyone should be aware of its benefits – it is a life saver.

YMCA – A Place to learn and Grow

When a person thinks about the YMCA of Berks County/Reading, he/she may think about the family programs such as swimming, child care, basketball, fitness center and summer camp. But did you know that YMCA also provides transitional housing to individuals seeking assistance with life skills, self-improvement and support. Jami Geist, YMCA’s Housing Director says that Y has been a temporary home for hundreds of men and women who are working through a myriad of life situations including homelessness, recovery from use of alcohol and drugs, legal issues and child custody challenges. An employee of the YMCA for 17 years, Jami states she enjoys her job. “I started at the YMCA as a Case Manager.” Jami says she finds it a joy to see individuals who were once living at the YMCA, are now responsible and productive citizens. They are able to work on their goals while residing in the YMCA. These goals are specific to the individual’s needs and the length of stay in the YMCA Housing program varies based on the individuals’ goals. Jami indicated that ex-residents often see her on the streets and stop to say hello and thank you for the help they received as a resident at the Y. The YMCA is a great place for individuals and families.

There is Help Where it is Needed

The Council on Chemical Abuse works with many organizations that provide services for Berks County residents. Anais Clemente, Intake & Benefits Coordinator for the Council on Chemical Abuse, works out of an office at Treatment Access and Services Center (TASC). There she works directly with individuals who are in need of treatment and are applying for medical assistance. The individuals she works with are not insured, or are under insured, and thanks to funding through the Council, these individuals are able to receive the help they need to get into treatment. Since her time working for the Council, Anais has decided to change her major in college to study addiction studies. She was also part of a recent event for the Spanish speaking community. Tune in to watch and hear more about the services available through TASC.

COCA SERVICE PROVIDER – Berks Counseling Center

Berks Counseling Center is a licensed facility that provides drug and alcohol services to individuals living in Berks County. The Council on Chemical Abuse has contracted services with Berks Counseling Center to include outpatient counseling, Student Assistance Program services, Intensive Case Management and Transitional Housing for women and children. Connie Malafarina, Clinical Director for Drug and Alcohol Services states, “Berks Counseling Center has walk-in hours Mon – Fri 8:30 to noon, if someone is in need of help”. Individuals are required to complete general background information and meet with a Financial Specialist to determine their eligibility for public funds, which come for the Council on Chemical Abuse. Individuals receiving treatment services are expected to maintain appointment s and work with their counselor to develop goals which contribute to their sobriety. Connie states that soon Berks Counseling Center will have Saturday office hours to meet the growing demand of individual seeking services. Connie shares her desire to help others stems from the tragic loss of her parent in 1995 due to drunk driver. Connie says the value of counseling is what helped her deal with her loss and now she works to help others deal with their struggles.

How Individuals Can Access Treatment

When it comes to loved getting help for drug and/or alcohol abuse, access to treatment can be challenging, especially if you have no insurance or your co-pay is high and you cannot afford it. Fortunately, the Council on Chemical Abuse provides funding for the uninsured or under-insured who desire to get help and are seeking treatment. Bernice Hines Corbit, Case Manager Supervisor at the Council on Chemical Abuse says there are several access points for individuals to begin the process of getting help. Hospitals, Employment Assistance Programs (EAP), and the Central Intake Unit at Treatment Access Services Center (TASC) are all primary entities who are able to facilitate assessment for individuals to determine appropriate level of care. Length of treatment stay is determined by what specific service an individual needs. Bernice states detoxification from drugs is usually permitted for 3-5 days to allow the individual to get out of his/her environment and allow the drugs to deplete from their bodies. Inpatient can vary depending on the individual’s specific need. Bernice says she tries to help as many people as possible and it is not uncommon to have a person seek treatment more than once. Bernice states she has been doing this work for a long time and it gives her pleasure to help those in need.

Don’t Get Hooked

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. It serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand against drugs and violence. Through drug prevention and education, youth and families are encouraged to live drug-free lives. Prevention Specialist, Dan Pfost shares the story behind Red Ribbon Week, which commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by a Drug Enforcement Agent, Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who died at the hands of drug traffickers in Mexico while fighting the battle against illegal drugs. Dan says this year’s theme “Don’t get Hooked” is to remind youth not to use alcohol and other drugs, as well as behaviors such as gambling. Over 50 schools in the county are participating in Red Ribbon Week. Berks County is celebrating Red Ribbon Week from October 21st – 28th.

Saving Lives

Kathy Noll is the Program Analyst at the Council on Chemical Abuse. That means she works on various projects within the agency to ensure quality program deliverables. The Naloxone Project started in 2015. A grant was approved for the training and dispensing of Naloxone to the general public. The grant has ended, but COCA feels this project is a critical need to the community and has continued the project. Naloxone reverses the effect of the opioids and prevents an overdose. Individuals receive training on how to administer Naloxone in emergency situations until medical personnel can intervene. The Council on Chemical Abuse works with area EMT departments to facilitate trainings on the effective use of Naloxone as well as dispense Naloxone kits to those who attend. Kathy states Naloxone is easy to get and to administer. It is a lifesaver!

Take Action – Be Part of the Change

Former employee, now Board Member, Jobany has experienced both spectrums of the Council on Chemical Abuse. Jobany says he was hired at COCA as a contractor to provide Tobacco cessation classes in Spanish. Soon after, his role expanded and he provided education and awareness about the problem gambling. Jobanny also worked with local bodegas to educate the owners about the value in selling healthy products to their customers. Jobanny states, “I love doing things for the community and being a part of that change.” As board member, Jobany has taken the lead on a community education event, Esperanza Para Berks – The first and only event of its kind. Esperanza Para Berks will bring together experts in the field of prevention, intervention, treatment and the faith-based community to discuss issues surrounding alcohol and drugs and how individuals can gain access to treatment. The program will be completely in Spanish and free to citizens of Berks County and Beyond. The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 15, 2016 from 10:00am – 3:00pm at Centro Hispano.

Community Education yields Community Solutions

“We need to understand the nature of the disease and bring resources to raise awareness with solid information about the problems and solutions”, states Drew Eisenhauer, a consultant for the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA). Drew was referring to the commitment COCA has for sponsoring an annual conference. For 15 years as part of his job responsibilities, Drew coordinated the annual conference to ensure that the topics were timely and impactful. Drew states, “addiction is interwoven in so many aspects of our society… the conference’s mission is to raise awareness of drug and alcohol issues as well as “process addictions” in the community and to identify solutions that we all need to be a part of.” Whether you are a parent, school personnel or professional in the field of drugs and alcohol, you will learn valuable information by attending the Council on Chemical Abuse Annual Conference.

Certified Recovery Specialist at Work

Mike Reese retired from the City of Reading in 2011. It was not long after his retirement that he began contracting with the Council on Chemical providing information, education and raising awareness about problem gambling. Mike says problem gambling is much like other behavioral addictions in that is affects that part of the brain he likes to call “the fun center”. Mike shares his expertise with many community residents, including older adults, youth, professionals, and individuals attending community health fairs. A strong advocate for helping people get well, Mike also works for TASC, providing services for the project, Warm Hand-off. Collaboration between the local hospitals, Council on Chemical Abuse and TASC, the Warm Hand-Off project provides immediate support and help for individuals who come to the emergency room as the result of an overdose. Sharing experience, strength, and hope Mike provides support and information to the patient and encourage them to embraces the treatment process to get well. “I talk to the disease… people I deal with are under the influence. It is their disease talking, not them.”

Helping Others; Giving Back

Easy Does It, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals transform from a life of self-destruction and a world of purpose, hope and renewal. “All of the staff are in recovery”, states Phil Bennett, Case Manager at Easy Does It, Inc. – Walnut Street. That is a plus when you are working with individuals who are uncertain about living without mood altering chemicals. Easy Does It, Inc. can provide food, clothing, shelter and supportive services up to 62 men and women. Residents are responsible for maintaining appointments, seeking employment, attending counseling sessions, going to 12-step help meetings and other tasks which are instrumental to improving their quality of life. The commitment to Easy Does It, Inc is voluntary. Phil states the work that he is doing at Easy Does It, Inc is like paying it forward. “ I understand where they are. I am able to remember what it was like sitting on the other side of the desk… I can share my experience… I have empathy from having been there.”

Brandywine Heights Town Hall Meeting Leads to Active Community Task Force

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, nearly 600 people packed the Brandywine Heights Middle School auditorium. What was the reason? A town hall meeting about the epidemic of fatal drug overdoses in the Topton community – five recent graduates of Brandywine and Kutztown had died due to drug overdose. Seeking answers and desperate to help – the community began to speak out, sharing concerns and asking questions about addiction.

In response to community need, the Brandywine Heights Community Task Force was formed in April 2014 with community volunteers from within the Brandywine Heights School District area and its surrounding communities. Their mission: “to make a difference by building a stronger community through Education, Engagement and Outreach.”

In this interview, Brandywine Area Heights School District Superintendent and Task Force President, Andrew Potteiger, and Parent Volunteer and VP of the Task Force, Maria Winkler, talk with Jennifer about the work the task force has done and the history of how it began. Maria says the task force’s work resembles building bridges between agencies, organizations, churches, school, business, community, clergy, police, DA, etc. Since it’s conception the task force has done work within the school with prevention education, worked with the Council on Chemical Abuse to have educational opportunities for parents, started an after-school program, and planned many events in the Brandywine Heights Community.

For more information about Brandywine Heights Community Task Force, you can visit them online at http://www.bhctaskforce.org/index.html

Boyertown PAYS Task Force Does Big Things

Communities across America are working to promote safe streets and safe spaces for youth to grow. A perfect example is what is happening in the town of Boyertown. School administrators, parents, law enforcement, youth and social service agencies meet on a monthly basis to address challenges in the community . The Boyertown PAYS Task Force was formed in 2013. Assistant Superintendent of Boyertown School District Rob Scorboria and School Counselor Marilee Cassidy said the results of student surveys encouraged the planning and implementation of school and community-related programs. The evidence-based programs were implemented to address mental health, drug and alcohol use and decision-making skills. Securing grant funding has enabled the group to expand programs and initiatives aimed to improve the overall wellness of young people in the Boyertown Area School District. In recognition of the great work being done in the community, the Boyertown PAYS Task Force received the Bud Haines Community Service Award at the 2015 Council on Chemical Abuse Annual Awards Luncheon. Rob Scorboria says the overall involvement of committed and talented individuals giving of their time and sharing expertise has been instrumental to making connections as well as capitalize on resources. For more information about the great work happening in Boyertown, visit their website at www.boyertownasd.org.

You are never too Young to Lead

As Co-President of Project Peace, Vilma is a strong advocate for change. She wants everyone to see the City of Reading as she sees it, a place of opportunity and hope. “We try to get to the underlying cause of violence in hopes of overcoming it,” Vilma says she gets tired of hearing about the negativity charged against the school district and the city and desires to show the positive aspects of change. Vilma works alongside her peers to plan, strategize, and implement projects and activities that demonstrate positivity within the community. Vilma states, “I want Reading to be a place people want to visit and love and be proud of where you come from.” Project Peace has gained recognition by Caron Treatment Centers as an Unsung Hero for its role in prevention. Members of Project Peace participate in Anti-Drug Marches, speaking engagements at elementary school and national leadership trainings. This summer, several members representative of Project Peace will attend the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Institute to participate in a national training geared toward educating communities about the dangers of prescription drugs and the importance of proper disposal of unused medications.

Young People Take Charge

Project Peace was founded in 2010 by students at Reading High School, reacting to the gun murders of four of their classmates in one school year. The student lead organization works within the schools and the city to promote peace and non-violence among young people and adults. “There are Project Peace groups in the both high schools and the middles schools says, Tyzehna, a senior attending Reading High. “When we first started Project Peace it was just at the high school.” Project Peace members meet monthly to formulate ideas and strategies about ways to help foster a safer community. Tyzehna says the group tries to get involved with everything in the community to make it a better place. Through activities such as Peace Marches, mentoring to kids in elementary schools, and presentations to city council and board members regarding efforts and suggestions to make our communities better, Project Peace are “Young People taking Charge.”

A Heart to Help

For those who enter the field of addiction as a profession, passion for the work and the people they interact with is necessary to help individuals and families in need. Jamie Cappiello, a recent Alvernia University graduate from the Behavioral Health Program, already has hands-on experience in her field of study and is eager to continue working to help educate others. Jamie was an intern at the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) during her Senior year at Alvernia University, and after graduation helped facilitate an evidence-based curriculum “Too Good For Violence.” During her time with COCA, Jamie has taught prevention education in the classroom and came to realize the importance and empowerment of education. “People don’t realize that drugs, substance and behavioral abuses really are bad,” said Jamie on what she learned during her time working with the Prevention Staff. Jamie also recently finished her Senior Honor’s Thesis “Binge Eating Disorder: Disordered Eating or Deadly Addiction?” In her paper, Jamie compared binge eating disorder to drug and alcohol addiction. Tune in while Jamie, with host Jennifer, shares her heart to help and educate.

Help is there When You Need It

Research indicate today’s youth is grappling with a myriad of issues, including self –esteem, peer pressure, academic achievement, and worldview outlook. These dynamics can make it challenging for students to focus in school and/or home. The Student Assistance Program provides assistance to students in a school setting.

Student Assistance Program Coordinator, Tina George from Caron Treatment Centers chats with Yvonne Stroman on the program’s role within the school districts and its benefits. Tina says every school SAP team functions differently, but they are in every school district to meet the needs of the student who is referred. Referrals can come from the school, families or anyone concerned about the student’s well-being.

You Are Not Alone

Individuals in early recovery from alcohol, drugs and other behaviors find themselves in a whirlwind, trying to get steady on their feet. Both life-skills and living skills need to be cultivated and nurtures. For the individual fighting to get well, the road can seem lonely. Margaret Baldwin, Certified Recovery Specialist from TASC explains how the services of a Recovery Support Specialist can help ease the anxiety and overwhelming thoughts of how to achieve a sober lifestyle and become a responsible person in recovery. Recovery Support Services are free and available to persons 18 years and older living in Berks County. Margaret states, “As a person in long-term recovery, I did not have the opportunity to receive help as extensive as this.” Join us as we talk to Margaret about how an individual can become involved in this service that is free and voluntary.

It Takes a Community

The age-old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” still rings true today in the Berks County community. Many communities in the county are working together to provide educational programs for children. Just one of these organizations is the Reading Recreation Commission. Heather Boyer has been serving the Reading community for over 20 years and current acts as the Program Supervisor for the Reading Recreation Commission.

One of her responsibilities includes choosing programming and educational speakers for the summer programs, which includes the Council on Chemical Abuse. As part of the summer programs with the Reading Recreation Commission, the Council speaks with children about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, gambling and gaming. Join the conversation as Heather and Jennifer talk about the education provided to children on gambling, drugs and alcohol and more.

Teens & Technology

It’s not just the kids who may need to evaluate how much time they spend on with technology and video games. Anyone, any age can find themselves losing hours glued to a screen, whether it’s video games, email, Facebook or watching Netflix. Research now shows that the same part of the brain that responds to drugs and alcohol responds to our interaction with technology. With technology at our fingertips, including cell phones and video game consoles, how is society being affected? Prevention Specialist, Dan Pfost talks with Jennifer Kaucher about the Teens & Technology program offered through the Council on Chemical Abuse, and the importance of education in the classroom to include technology addiction and gaming. Listen in as Dan discusses what topics he talks about to students, including why do we like games like Grand Theft Auto, and how are video games like gambling.

Underage Drinking is a Crime

What is the number 1 drug used by youth between the ages of 12-18? If your guess is marijuana or cigarettes, you are incorrect. Alcohol is highly used among youth and it continues to have popularity in all areas of our community. Alcohol is available through friends and family.

Underage drinking is a crime punishable by fines and other penalties and sanctions. Officer Kevin Rudy knows too well the consequences and negative outcomes as a result of underage drinking. He joins Yvonne Stroman to engage in a frank conversation about underage drinking in the community and on college campus and a program that is available to help youth and parents gain insight and information into the harmful effects of underage drinking.

It Takes A Village

Developing partnerships and collaborative communities are essential ingredients to building resilient youth. Dr. Jill Hackman, Executive Director of Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) and Board Member for the Council on Chemical Abuse says partnering with the Council on Chemical Abuse has helped her and the BCIU become better stewards to the 18 school districts in the county. Through the offering of professional development trainings and technical assistance, teachers and school administrators are armed with valuable information, practical approaches and research based data that can be implemented in their schools. Additionally, schools are better prepared to assist students and families gain access to needed local services. Dr. Hackman encourages professionals, parents and community members to “find confidence to have the conversation” regarding the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs as well as other issues impacting the lives of our youth.

Empowering Youth

Council on Chemical Abuse Prevention Manager, Jackie Steed and Yvonne Stroman, Community Programs Specialist discuss the importance of prevention in our community and schools. Evidence Based curriculum such as LifeSkills is a fifteen session education program that addresses refusal skills, decision making and dangers related to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, teen violence, bullying and peer pressure.

Middle School and High School students have access to this information in a classroom setting or at a playground or recreation park during the summer months. Schools welcome this invaluable information for their students, and in some instances, receive LifeSkills training to sustain its continuation for years to come.

They are Learning in LifeSkills programs

According to Megan Faust, a Reading School District teacher, the kids have a lot of questions during their sessions of receiving LifeSkills, an evidence based curriculum for middle school youth that teaches refusal skills, self-esteem, decision making and the dangers of Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs. Megan is one of the teachers whose classroom is a part of the LifeSkills curriculum brought to schools by the Council on Chemical Abuse. Prevention Specialist Jennifer Kaucher, and Megan Faust, teacher at Northwest Middle School, discuss the benefits of students receiving LifeSkills curriculum, and how this education is empowering her students.

It’s Not Just About Telling Youth Not to Do Drugs

Empowering students to say no to drugs and alcohol requires more than telling them, “Just Say No!” Through the instruction of 15 sessions of Botvin’s Evidence Based, LifeSkills students gain knowledge on refusal skills, self-esteem and more. Paige Carroll, a member of the Prevention team at the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA), talks with host, Jennifer Kaucher, about teaching LifeSkills to students in the Reading School District. The curriculum has been proved to reduce drug, alcohol and tobacco use among students who participate in these classes. COCA is able to bring this education to students in Berks County due to specific grant funding.

We’re all in this together

Council on Chemical Abuse staff Sonia Santiago, a Certified Prevention Specialist and Yvonne Stroman, Community Programs Specialist sit down to discuss the Underage Drinking Program facilitated by the Council on Chemical Abuse in collaboration with the local District Magistrates, law enforcement, juvenile probation and Certified Drug and Alcohol professionals. Alcohol is viewed as a gateway drug. Gateway means it can lead to individuals to using other drugs that are illegal. The consequences of use of alcohol for young people under the age of 21 can lead to legal sanctions, driver’s license suspension, court fines and other costs. Learn about how the program is coordinated in an effort to help young people learn about the dangers of underage drinking, its consequences and resources that are available to help people who may need treatment.

This is to help, not harm you…

Sitting in a class at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning may not be a choice, but the information learned in this classroom is life changing. The Underage Drinking Program of Berks County is an educational opportunity for underage youth and parents to learn about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, and for some to get the help they may need to address an addiction. Joe Boyle has been an instructor for the Underage Drinking Program of Berks County for 9 years, and a schoolteacher for 18 years. He has seen the harm drugs and alcohol can do to a young life. Hear from Joe about the topics discussed in this class as he sits down with Jennifer Kaucher to talk about this beneficial program for youth.

Nothing is a Sure Bet

Problem gambling is a disorder that interrupts every part of your life. Relationships are compromised, employment is challenged and finances are shaky. It can cause bankruptcy, physical and emotional stress and worry. Join Yvonne Stroman, Community Programs Specialist from Council on Chemical Abuse and her guest, Bob Schwartz as they discuss the destruction that can occur as the result of gambling. As an individual who struggled with the a gambling addiction for over 25 years, Bob gives some insight into how his gambling started, how it progressed, and the steps he took to find help and live a gambling free lifestyle. Bob states, “I never did anything illegal to get alcohol, but for gambling…..” Today, Bob contracts with the Council on Chemical Abuse to deliver education awareness programs in the community to make individuals aware of the harm that comes from gambling. Bob has spoken with individuals who have lost their life savings and have fallen into depths of despair. Bob works to provide resources, awareness and hope to others so that individuals struggling can find a way solutions and hope.

The World According to Problem Gambling

As Director of Planning and Resource Development, Marcia Goodman – Hinnershitz sits down with Yvonne Stroman to talk about problem gambling, its pervasiveness, behaviors and attitudes associated with problem gambling and what resources are available for people living in Berks County who may be living with a gambling addiction, but do not know where to turn for help.

Marcia indicates that she has been with the Council on Chemical Abuse for more than 15 years and she has witnessed the growth of the agency to include problem gambling and gambling addiction as a problem behavior that needs to be addressed. “In the beginning, COCA focused on alcohol and other drugs”. As time passed the Council on Chemical Abuse began to address and appropriate services that address other problem behaviors such as problem gambling.

Once casino gambling became legalized in Pennsylvania, more monies became available to financially support prevention and treatment efforts. Marcia talks about the availability of prevention and intervention services for problem gambling as well as the hope that awaits individuals and families.

Celebrating “Tobacco Holidays”

What are tobacco holidays and why do they celebrate them? Every year, during the month of March people all over the country celebrate Kick Butts Day – a national day designed to educate and empower teens to say no to tobacco.

The Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) joins in on the celebration! Prevention Specialist, Teresa Tieman Detweiler joins Jennifer Kaucher in this video podcast to talk about youth and tobacco education. They discuss the events and education around Kick Butts day and a new popular trend among young adults: smoking e – cigarettes.

Teresa and Jennifer also discuss the other tobacco holidays the Council on Chemical Abuse recognizes, World No Tobacco Day in May and the Great American Smoke Out in November.

Be Tobacco Free – There is Support

Did you know Nicotine is said to be the most addictive substance – more addictive than heroin?! The drug found in tobacco products, nicotine, is what leads to addiction. Council on Chemical Abuse offers resources to help people quit smoking. In this podcast, host Jennifer Kaucher is joined with Teresa Tieman Detweiler to talk about the free tobacco cessation classes COCA offers to Berks County residents. Teresa talks about what the classes are about and what is offered to those who join, along with information about how someone can quit for good.

Addiction Is The Most Treatable Disease There Is, Treatment and Recovery Work

George Vogel started working with the State Employment Office and had an interest in criminal justice. He ultimately was assigned to work with people on probation, parole and in prison. George found that the people he worked with could not hold a job. George says, “There was another piece that was so obvious it would be hard to deny it … Just about every person had some history of drug and alcohol addiction in their past”. George says he became very interested in working with that segment of the population. At about the same time, the Berks County Prison Warden, George Wagner decided that the prison would play a major role and set up a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program within the prison walls. Having heard time and time again about individuals re-entering into the prison system due to drugs, this seemed like the next logical step. Years later that program and the programs that COCA offers have made a big difference. George says, “To me it means that if we can intervene on this part of the person’s life we can do a lot as far as him or her coming back into the prison again”. People come up to him and say, “George, I don’t know if you remember me or not” George does remember the people he has met and on the other side the story is the people George will never see again because of overdose or continued addiction. George says, “That’s the sad part of the story because addiction is the most treatable disease that there is, meaning that once treatment occurs and recovery continues, the restoration of body parts that were damaged can heal”. Treatment and Recovery work!

It’s all About Offering Help and Assistance and Paying it Forward

Yvonne Stroman is a Community Program Specialist with the Council On Chemical Abuse and has been affiliated with COCA for over 20 years. She believes it’s important to share recovery. Yvonne says at Coca “We speak about the disease of addiction, people do and can get well. Families do get better. Hope is just around the corner and often times that hope is found by contacting the Council on Chemical Abuse”. Yvonne says “COCA is responsible for the administration of public dollars back into the community. By working with local drug and alcohol providers COCA works to offer the most effective means of recovery and prevention”. COCA works collaboratively in the community offering recovery resources, prevention, treatment for the disease of addiction and intervention services. Yvonne says sometimes you ask, “Is it worth it with all this calamity, but when you see families and young people getting well, and you see them being productive citizens. That’s a huge motivator to keep working in the trenches making a difference”. One of the things that motivates Yvonne to keep going is running into individuals who will come back and tap her on the shoulder and say “Hey remember me, here I am, I doing well” All I ask of people who have been help is for them to pay it forward. Seeing kids that I knew grew up in a shelter having kids now and raising their family in a healthy manner is the reward. Yvonne adds that one of the reasons she continues to get up and do the work every day is hearing people tell her, “yeah, I was benefactor of a service from COCA and I am doing wonderful today, Thank You.”. That’s one of the reasons I continue to get up and do the work everyday.

People Get Well… There Is Hope!

Jennifer Kaucher, a Prevention Specialist with COCA got involved with drug and alcohol prevention in high school. She had a deep desire to get involved in events that weren’t surrounded by drugs and alcohol. She and 3 friends started a program that encouraged drug and alcohol free lifestyle, activities and events. During her junior year Jennifer participated in an ‘Earn and Learn’ class that COCA offered.

Premier Show: What is the Council on Chemical Abuse, and What Do They Do?

Jennifer Kaucher, Prevention Specialist, and Yvonne Stroman, Community Program Specialist, are your hosts and they sit down to have a conversation with the Council on Chemical Abuse (COCA) Executive Director, George Vogel about the history of COCA. During the conversation they find out how COCA got started, the agency’s purpose, its growth since its inception and the myriad of services offered to residents residing in Berks County. As the Single County Authority (SCA), the Council on Chemical Abuse manages and administers public monies that come into the county for these services. Over the years COCA has grown in many areas in a very positive direction. George says, “We provide a lot of prevention services and we have dozens of contracts with organizations in Berks County who provide intervention, treatment and recovery services. The biggest growth is the growing number of people who have received treatment through these services.” We hope you enjoy our show!

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