2023 Annual Conference Helped Change The Way We Think

The Council on Chemical Abuse held its 2023 Annual Conference on November 6 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Reading with nearly 200 professionals in attendance. This year’s theme was Changing the Way We Think: Innovations in Prevention, Treatment & Recovery.

Attendees were welcomed by COCA Executive Director Kathleen Noll and COCA Board Vice President Jeffrey Auman, as well as County Commissioners Christian Y. Leinbach, Michael S. Rivera, and Lucine E. Sihelnik.

Following the welcome, an engaging keynote presentation was provided by David Loveland, Ph.D, Senior Director of Operations at the University of Pittsburgh Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) within the School of Pharmacy. Dr. Loveland discussed  advances in substance use disorder treatment, including expansion of telehealth services and low-barrier treatments to improve access to services.

The conference also included a panel presentation entitled “From Innovative Ideas to Practice,” moderated by Dr. Ramona Roberts, Psy. D. Panelists included:

  • Jeff Hanley, Exec. Director Commonwealth Prevention Alliance
  • Andrea Sledge, MSW, CRS, CAI – TASC
  • Greg Krausz, MA, CAADC, LPC – Director, MARS
  • William Stauffer, LSW CCS CADC, Exec. Director, Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance

After the panel discussion, attendees visited breakout rooms for workshops on Harm Reduction, Current Drug Trends, and Addiction Recovery through Medication Assisted Treatment and Therapy. Breakout room presentations were provided by Dr. Loveland, Sarah Laurel from Savage Sisters, and Sgt. Pat Laporace, Berks County Detective.

During breaks, people were able to visit tables and learn about the services offered by 24 different agencies who provided literature and information about their organizations.

Both breakfast and lunch were provided. During lunch, an awards presentation honored people who have made significant contributions to the field of addiction and recovery.

Scroll down for award winners.

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Congratulations to all our award winners!

Photo: (L-R) Lydia Singley, Theresa LaScala, Sgt. Todd Harris, COCA Exec. Dir. Kathleen Noll, Robert Diaz; Drexel University Medical Students Tom Parker, Winston Marquis & Carter Van; and Dr. Ramona Palmerio-Roberts.

THE ROGER S. HERTZ EDUCATION AWARD: For ongoing commitment to development and/or provision of drug and alcohol programming in a school setting.
Theresa LaScala, Wyomissing Area School District Student Assistance Program
THE JOSEPH “BUD” HAINES COMMUNITY AWARD: For ongoing commitment to preventing drug and alcohol abuse in the community.
Medical Students, Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health
THE FRANCIS “FRAN” DREXLER PUBLIC SAFETY AWARD: For ongoing commitment to providing law enforcement-related services that prevent, combat and intervene on drug and alcohol-related problems.
Sgt. Todd Harris, Berks County Detectives
THE BETTY J. MCDONOUGH TREATMENT AWARD: For ongoing commitment to the treatment of addiction.
Ramona Palmerio-Roberts, Psy. D., Caron Treatment Centers
THE ALGOT “AL” ECKSTROM RECOVERY AWARD: For ongoing commitment to the recovery from the disease of addiction.
Robert Diaz, Walk It Out Recovery Services
THE GEORGE J. VOGEL, JR. PRESIDENT’S AWARD: For overall ongoing commitment as a volunteer, leader or professional in the treatment, prevention and intervention of substance use disorder.
Lydia Singley, Berks County Health Choices


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