RCASA Newsletter 

January-June 2013

In This Issue of RCASA News
What are Synthetics?
Youth Leaders Present the Carnival of Tricks
Youth Needed!
Film Series Reaches Over 400
My Name was Bette
Point of No Return
Who Cares About Kelsey?
Chemical Health Education Program
Board Leaders Organize APPLE Prevention Project
RCASA Partners with Reading Public Schools
Chemical Health Program News
Like Us on Facebook
Reading Police
RCASA @ Healthy Kids Day
FAQs on Marijuana

Do any of these sound familiar...Spice? Bath Salts? Mephedrone? Bromo? Kratom? Krokodil? Smiles? Molly? Purple Drank?


Welcome to the world of synthetic substances that have emerged over the past few years.  These substances are often sold over the counter or at head shops under misleading names.  Get informed on these substances.  SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network reported "11,406 emergency department visits in 2010 involved "Spice" or "K2".  Three-fourths of these ED visits involved patients aged 12 to 29 (75 percent), of which 78 percent were male." According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 5,205 calls in 2012 for human exposures to synthetic marijuana. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports "studies have shown that the types and amounts of synthetic cannabinoids can vary greatly between products. In reality, youth who report using synthetic marijuana likely have no idea they are using or what the effects will be". Short descriptions are provided below on some of these products. To better understand, parents can access a more

detailed guide.



K2 Spice/K-2/Mojo


These products are usually herbal mixtures or potpourri that can be smoked and often look like marijuana.  According to the DEA, products such as K-2 are actually "synthetic (man-made) versions of THC--called cannabinoids. These can be very strong--much more potent than the THC in marijuana, and they have not been tested in humans for safety--probably why some people are ending up in the emergency rooms as a result of using it. But, in truth we don't actually know what is in all that is being sold out there as K2--obviously there is no quality control."



Bath Salts/Mephedrone aka Ivory Wave, Cloud 9, Vanilla Sky, Bliss, Scarface


The DEA Bath Salts reports that "synthetic stimulants that are marketed as bath salts are often found in a number of retail products. These synthetic stimulants are derivatives of cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant, which is an active chemical found naturally in the khat plant.  Cathinone derivatives cause rapid heart rate (which may lead to heart attacks and strokes), chest pains, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting."  Bath salts are illegal in Massachusetts and are a Scheduled Drug on the DEA list. More details at  MA Ban on Bath SaltsHowever, youth and adults often access these substance online and in other nearby states.


Bromo Dragon Fly/2C-B


bromo 2 According to the DEA, "2C-B is abused for its hallucinogenic effects. 2C-B is abused in tablet or capsule forms or snorted in its powder form. The drug has been sold as other hallucinogens such as MDMA and LSD. Some user's abuse 2C-B in combination with LSD (referred to as a "banana split") or MDMA (called a "party pack"). The DEA placed 2C-B in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)."  

Click below for info on others that DEA is watching... 





Purple Drank




Youth Presents Carnival of Tobacco Tricks in Reading
Youth Crew with Rotary President
Youth leaders led by Alex Webb presented the "Carnival of Tricks" exhibit to adults at three meetings including the Reading Rotary Club on March 4th,  School Committee on May 6th, and the Reading Clergy Council on June 4th. The exhibit and presentation focused on raising awareness amongst adults about the many tricks used by Big Tobacco to garner the youth market.  The exhibit was also featured at two major events including the 2013 Health & Wellness Day @ Reading Memorial High School and the YMCA Health & Safety Kids Day Event.  Overall, youth leaders reached over 100 adults including parents and leaders on this topic.
Exhibit Photos:

  CT.Side 3 CT.Side 4 CT.Side 2 CT.Side 1

Check out the RCASA/RMHS 84 Chapter Page by clicking on the picture below.

  84 Chapter Page- RMHS RCASA

Get involved in RCASA
YCrewvolunteersneededAwards AM 2012

There will be 7 summer leadership sessions. Meetings run on Wednesdays starting 7/10/13 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Reading Police Community Room, 15 Union St.


Fall meetings run every other Sunday starting 9/15/13 from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. at Reading Police


Kelsie Pace, Abigail Vieno and the RCASA Director participated in the "Walk Like MADD 5K" at Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, which raised $52,000. At the event, we learned that "our children share the road with an estimated 2 million drivers who have had three or more prior drunk driving offenses". 


We also viewed the memory quilt which included personal remembrances of lives lost to impaired driving including Heather Woods, just 6 years old when she died. MADD Massachusetts also runs Victim Impact Panels in Burlington, MA to educate people about the dangers of impaired driving.


Visit MADD to learn more about the victims of Drunk Driving and their families at Victim Tribute..The tributes are a reminder of how precious life is and the extensive pain many families face in the aftermath.  A few excerpts from tributes are included below: 


"Brittany Harmon was my cousin. she was 19 when the incident happened. Brittany had just gotten a job and wanted to celebrate that evening. When it was time to go home she got into a truck with a group of intoxicated boys. My cousin died even though she was not the one drunk. It has been a little over a year and it still hurts to think about it.


"Benjamin A. Koier- Our son, Ben, was killed by a drunk driver on June 26, 2011. He was 19 years old and 3 miles from home when a woman hit him head on and killed him instantly. The woman was 3.5 times the legal limit and had pills in her system as well. She too died in the crash. We did not know anything had happened until 4:40am the next morning. What dreadful news to awaken to as the coroner was standing on our porch with a small bag of Ben's things."


RCASA Reaches 451 People Through Film Series
Each film opened with the RCASA PSA
Dear 16 Year Old Me by RCASA Youth Crew Reading, MA
"Dear 16 Year Old Me" by RCASA Youth Crew


RCASA hosted the My Name was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic Film Screening in February for 250 participants at Jordan's IMAX Theatre.  A panel of expert speakers provided more information and answered the audience members questions. Panelists included: Diana Clark, Family Healing Strategies; Gabrielle Dean, Right-Turn Clinical Director; Julianne DeAngelis, RCASA Outreach Coordinator; William Drinkwater, Dual Disorders Specialist; Jason Moscato, Riverside Community Care Clinician; and Dr. Sherri VandenAkker; film co-producer, writer and director. Click here for the Bette Program & Resource List 


RCASA and Video Creations Inc. hosted the Point of No Return Film Screening on May 1, 2013 for 166 participants at the  Woburn Showcase CinemasThe evening began with an introduction by Julianne DeAngelis, RCASA Outreach Coordinator followed by Chief Robert McKenzie, Film Visionary from Kennebunk PD and Bill. Paterson, Project Director, University of New England,  Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition.  Reactions to the film were powerful with some audience needing to dig for kleenex. Questions from parents and youth were raised about underage drinking prevention in Reading.  Chief James Cormier, Reading Police Department was on hand to answer questions and explain changes in policies advocated by RCASA.  These changes include the Reading Police Zero Tolerance Policy on Underage Drinking, Reading Public School Chemical Health Policy, RCASA/Reading Public Schools Chemical Health Education Program, and the Town of Reading Alcohol Policy and Compliance Program.  Click here for the PONR Program & Resources 


RCASA offered the Who Cares About Kelsey Film Screening oKelseyn June 4, 2013 for 35 participants at the Reading Performing Arts CenterThis film focuses on the true story of a student dealing with behavioral health challenges. Click here for WCAK Program & Resources. RCASA is working with the Behavioral Health Task Force to provide multiple opportunities for students and adults to see this important documentary. Our series of film events will include the Who Cares About Kelsey Summer Screening on July 10th at the Reading Police Department Community Room on 15 Union Street in Reading from 1:00-3:00 p.m.  We will show the film again on  the evening of November 7th and host a community event about Behavioral Health on November 14th (locations to be determined).   Educational materials are available for those interesting in setting up training about the themes in the film.  To provide additional access to all three films, RCASA is in the process of getting library copies for residents to borrow to view the films








What's the latest on the Chemical Health Education Program (CHEP)? 


CHEP partners including Reading Memorial High School, Reading Police and RCASA conducted their 2 hour class for 66 local students and young adults.
Referrals to class are made by the RMHS administrators for Chemical Health Violations and/or Police Prosecutor for the Reading Police Department in cooperation with court diversion. Referrals are for 1st violations only.
RCASA staff presented the program highlights to the Reading School Committee and Reading Memorial High School PTO in May.  Class facilitators include Sarah Lennon (Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor), Julianne DeAngelis (Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor) and Erica McNamara, MPH.  Staff reported that class participants review decision-making, behavior change, substance misuse, family impact and legal issues in the 2-hour class
Example: CHEP slide below shows consequences for alcohol possession:
Alcohol Possession
CHEP provides opportunities for young adults to reflect on their own behavior, what influences contributed to their violation and ways to move forward.  Learn more at Chemical Health Education Program (CHEP) Overview.


RCASA Board of Directors Update
The Board met monthly to develop the coalition and discuss board business. A major focus for the past few months has been on developing the APPLE Project.  With the support of SAMHSA Grant Funds, we are adapting a college level prevention model called APPLE for the high school and middle school settings in Reading. The STOP Act  grant funds enable RCASA to target a large population of local students at risk for alcohol abuse. The APPLE model promoted by the University of Virginia's Center for Alcohol and Substance Education provides a framework to examine the school athletic environment in seven areas that impact student athletes' alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.
We bid farewell to longtime Board Leader and former RCASA President, Peter Hechenbleikner.  RCASA presented the "Pioneer in Coalition Development Award" to Peter for his leadership since 2005.  RCASA presented the "Excellence in Youth Development" award to Samantha Abate for her service as a Youth Crew Leader.  Jesse Shamon recieved the "Youth Award for Board Leadership".
RCASA Youth Crew Membership changes include:
  • Youth Liasions: Kelsie Pace and Scott Freeman graduated in June from Reading Memorial High School.  Jesse Shamon graduated from Austin Preparatory High School in June.  Sophia Kalogeris and Meghan Whelan will represent Reading Memorial High School as the new liasions to the Board. A new Austin Prep. liaison is pending.  
  • Adult Liasions: Steve Goldy completed his term as the liaison from the Board of Selectman in May. James Bonazoli will be the new Selectman liaison to serve on the Board. Larry Berkowitz from Riverside Community Care stepped down from his duties as a long-time Board member.  Jason Mostcato, RN, LICSW, Riverside was added to the roster.  Melissa Roberto, Hallmark Health Care joined the Board alongside her colleague Mary Ann Tillotson of Hallmark.  Also, Tim Kutzmark replaced Jane Duggan as the Reading Clergy Council liaison.  Bob LeLacheur will assume the Town Manager liaison position.
Members provides overall governance, financial oversight, planning, fundraising, education, public relations and communications, membership management, review and ongoing assessment of all programs at regular intervals, and guides implementation of strategic plan. The board typically meets monthly at the Reading Police DepartmentBoard officers are listed below:

Elaine Webb

 Member at large


Patrick Shannon

 Member at large


John Doherty

 Superintendent of Schools


Tom Zaya

 Asst. Principal of Athletics & Extracurricular Activities



For more information on the RCASA Board, email emcnamara@ci.reading.ma.us


RCASA Partners with Reading Public Schools
FFD 2013  
Info Tables: RCASA disseminated over a thousand prevention products and educational materials  at a variety of school and community events including Future Freshman Night, Film Screenings, and Friends and Family Day.  Click here to check out digital versions of the many pamphlets we offer including the Tips For Teens Series and Parenting Through the Years.
Dan Shanahan, the 7th grade Health Educator at both Parker and Coolidge Middle School has drawn on a variety of health resources in implementing this new class.  Health students recently developed short podcasts on substance abuse prevention topics using materials from RCASA.  Robyn Ferrazani, Documentary Film Educator at Parker Middle School recently connected a student in her course with RCASA to conduct an interview for a project.
  HWED collage
RCASA, Reading Police and Reading Schools worked with Arbella Insurance and Gilbert Insurance to host Distractology, a special interactive exhibit on impaired driving. The exhibit was  displayed for a week at Reading Memorial High School in March as part of our Health and Wellness Day programming.  Sixty students drove while other students observed. The exhibit was open during the school day and afterschool.  Special thanks to Julianne DeAngelis, Outreach Coordinator, Principal Higginbottom, Officer Santasky, Officer Martel  and Paula Graham, Wellness Chairperson for coordinating the exhibit.  
  • Over 1200 students participated in the 2013 Health and Wellness Day on March 13, 2013.  Students received a Symbol of Awareness when they entered the event. 

    Red Ribbon: HIV/AIDS, Substance Abuse Prevention  


    Green Ribbon: Environmental Awareness, Mental Health


    Purple Ribbon: Violence Prevention, Peace


    Periwinkle Ribbon: Healthy Eating, Esophagael Cancer


    Orange Ribbon: Cultural Diversity

    Students had the opportunity to visit health representatives from a variety of organizations including:
    Health Issues Classes:
    The School Resource Officer and RCASA staff conducted the Impaired Driving Prevention Workshop for 11th graders featuring the Point of No Return film and Legal Issues. Special thanks to Health Issues Educators Mrs. Lennon and Mrs. Fiorello for inviting us into their classes.
    Decisions Classes:
    A story of recovery- Abby Goodemote- taped for Reading MHS, Choose 2 Refuse Program
    Abby Goodemote
    The School Resource Officer and RCASA staff presented their Opiate Prevention Workshop featuring the Choose 2 Refuse materials on Oxycontin and Heroin prevention as well as a the personal story of Abby Goodemote. This class helps youth understand the dangers of heroin and the illegal use of OxyContin and empowers them to refuse these drugs and to make better decisions in their lives. Stories from other young people in recovery from opiate addictions are included.  Special thanks to Mr. Nelson and Mrs. Fiorello. 
    School-Based Training:
    MTSS The RCASA Director participated in the Reading School District Multi-Tiered Support System training along with Educators, Administrators and Support Personnel in June.  MTSS was developed in the state of Kansas and "is a coherent continuum of evidence based, system-wide practices to support a rapid response to academic and behavioral needs, with frequent data-based monitoring for instructional decision-making to empower each student to achieve high standards."
    Like us on Facebook 
    Check out the official twitter page of the Reading, MA PD.

     Follow us on Twitter 

    correct patch

    See below for more initiatives sponsored by RCASA & Reading Police


       text a tip card photo   



    Reading Police & RCASA Connect with Families

    YMCA HKD Abby and Kelsie On Saturday. April 27, 2013 the Reading Police Department and the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse participated in the annual Healthy Kids Day at the Burbank YMCA Healthy Kids Day is an annual event that promotes health, wellness and safety for children and their families. Staff at the YMCA estimated that around 350 families participated in Saturday's event.


    Erica McNamara, RCASA Director, and Safety Officer Justin Martel setup informational booths to offer families educational materials on substance abuse, seatbelt usage, bicycle safety, and healthy choices. Officer Martel educated children on the police SUV and some got the chance to turn on the emergency blue lights and hit the siren. After learning that wearing a seat belt reduces one's risk of death or serious injury in a crash by up to 50%, twenty four children signed a pledge that they will wear their seatbelt every time they take a ride in a motor vehicle.


    Kelsie Pace and Abigail Vieno, RCASA Youth Leaders and staff educated children and families on tobacco prevention, Text a Tip, and Rx Round Up. Parents learned they could bring their unwanted prescription medications to the police station free of charge. Families also learned how to send anonymous tips to local police. Visitors learned about resources to keep their children substance free as they grow and develop. "Participating in events like Healthy Kids Day helps the Department and RCASA connect with local youth," said Chief James W. Cormier. "These events allow us to promote safety and responsibility to families in a meaningful and personal way."

    FAQ's on Marijuana Laws & Policies


    What's going on at the state level?


    Medicinal Marijuana: Qu. 3 to allow the medicinal use of marijuana was passed in the November election in Massachusetts.  Since January, the MA Department of Public Health has drawn up a series of regulations to implement the statute. Click here to learn more.  The actual dispensaries will be licensed in the spring of 2014. The regulations state "the law" does not...

    • Give immunity under federal law or obstruct federal enforcement of federal law;
    • Supersede Massachusetts laws prohibiting possession, cultivation, transport, distribution, or sale of marijuana for non-medical purposes;
    • Allow the operation of a motor vehicle, boat or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana;
    • Require any health insurer or government entity to reimburse any person for the expenses of the medical use of marijuana;
    • Require any health care professional to authorize the use of medical marijuana for a patient;
    • Require any accommodation of the medical use of marijuana in any workplace, school bus or grounds, youth center or correctional facility; and
    • Require any accommodation of smoking marijuana in any public place.


    State Possession Citations-  On November 4, 2008, the voters passed Ballot Question 2, "An Act Establishing a Sensible State Marihuana Policy", commonly known as Question 2. The Reading Police Department working with RCASA currently monitor all marijuana violations issued in Reading by State Police or Reading Police to ensure youth under 18 meet their state citation requirements including 1) Complete the Drug Awareness Class 2) Complete 10 hours of Community Service and 3) Pay $100 fine to the Town of Reading (or other town in which violation occurs). Failure to complete these conditions can result in a $1,000 penalty.  For anyone over 18, they are required to pay a fee of $100. Learn more at Marijuana Violations


    What's happening here in Reading?


    Public Consumption Citations- Per town  bylaw (2009) Reading Police Officers may issue a ticket or by-law citation for "public consumption of marijuana" in Reading.  The fee is $300 per violation and is payable to the Town of Reading, Town Clerk, 16 Lowell St., Reading, MA 01867. This ticket is different than the state bylaw violation. Learn more at Marijuana Violations Info


    Zoning- RCASA supported the fall Town Meeting Article  15 to zone out medical marijuana treatment centers.  This article was rejected by the AG.  According to www.mass.gov

    "the Massachusetts Attorney General issued a decision that municipalities are not permitted to enact a total ban on Registered Marijuana Dispensaries. However, cities and towns may adopt zoning by-laws to regulate such dispensaries, so long as such by-laws do not conflict or interfere with the operation of the Department's regulations, and may enact a temporary moratorium in order to study the zoning issues related to the development of dispensaries."   The Reading Community Development and Planning Commission will hold a hearing in July to consider the moratorium proposal for Reading.  Following the hearing, the moratorium may be recommended for a vote by Town Meeting.  Reading Patch recently reported on CPDC developments.



    Donate to RCASA via Paypal




    RCASA is a non-profit tax deductable organization

    We are a coalition of people living and working in Reading, MA who promote a safe, healthy, vibrant community in which everyone makes healthy decisions and ensures that today's resources shape tomorrow's strengths.



    RCASA Edline Screenshot  

     Visit the RCASA Website on Edline



    Health Resources in Action 
    Our Sponsors