RCASA Newsletter 

July- September 2013

In This Issue of RCASA News
Youth Crew Summer Project
Data Presentation
Positive Parenting
Youth Leaders Present @ Annual meeting
NAADAC Conference
Cape Cod Symposium
Chemical Health Education Program
RCASA Partners with Reading Public Schools
In the news
Board Update
Reading Police
Like Us on Facebook
Reading Police Twitter
The film screening for "Who Cares About Kelsey?" has been rescheduled from October 2013 to February 2014.  More details to follow.
Youth Crew Summer Project

From July-August, the RCASA Youth Crew learned more about emerging patterns in synthetic drug abuse.  We learned about what these drugs were and why they are an issue for adolescents. Then we created a series of posters, see 2 of these products below:



We displayed our posters at the Reading Fall Street Faire and the RCASA Annual Meeting.



2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results Presentation 
Erica McNamara shared the 2013 Data Prezi: Reading, MA at the RCASA Annual meeting.  Click here for a copy of the 2013 YRBS Data Handout.  More data results and comparisons will be shared in November.
FAQs about data from the audience at the RCASA Annual Meeting:
  1. Are the survey results truthful? According to the Centers for Disease Control, research indicates data of this nature may be gathered as credibly from adolescents as from adults. Internal reliability checks help identify the small percentage of students who falsify their answers. To obtain truthful answers, students must perceive the survey as important and know procedures have been developed to protect their privacy and allow for anonymous participation. Reading follows a strict protocol for data collection and all data collectors sign a confidentiality statement.
  2.  Can you compare Reading data to other local towns/cities that are similar? Data for individual communities is not available for comparison. However, the state survey results are weighted to reflect demographics across a variety of cities and towns to allow for comparison. The state survey for 2013 is not yet available for comparison.
  3. Why didn't you show 2011 Reading data compared to 2013 data? In the 2013 Prezi, we share some local comparisons. However, we have not received the full data reports and Executive Summary from our data consultants. These comparisons will be made available later this year.
  4. Are you tracking new trends of behaviors that are on YouTube i.e. cinnamon challenge, etc.? We do add new trends if we have sufficient anecdotal information and guidance from the state and national surveys. However, due to the length of the survey, we weigh adding and deleting questions very carefully. For example, we added questions on texting while driving in 2011 because we had done a pre-survey on the topic and garnered evidence that we could yield quality data. The state and CDC have yet to add questions on this topic so we do not have comparison data. We added new questions in 2013 including the one below:

If we don't ask a trends question on a survey, we often locate the data or track it using different methods i.e. injury surveillance, research studies, focus groups etc. The cinnamon challenge has drawn over 50,000 YouTube videos and injuries from the challenge get tracked using Poison Control Data. USA Today published an article that indicated, "The American Association of Poison Control Centers, which issued a March 2012 alert about the dare, reported 222 cinnamon-related exposures in 2012, up from 51 in 2011."  If you are aware of trends that may be of interest, please let us know.


Check out FAQ about YRBS 2013 to learn more about why we ask certain questions and conduct the survey.

Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse from NIDA
 Youth Leaders Presentation at the RCASA Annual Meeting 
Youth Crew @ 2013 Annual meeting
Special thanks to Alex Webb, Jennie Dockser, Meghan Whelan, Emily Breen and Sophia Kalogeris. Learn more about the RCASA Youth Crew. We meet every other Sunday starting from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. at Reading Police Department. 



With the grant support of the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Corey Santasky, School Resource Office and RCASA Board Member and Sarah Lennon, Certified Addictions Counselor and Health Educator participated in the 2013 NAADAC Conference in Atlanta, GA to represent RCASA.


Officer Santasky and Sarah Lennon participated in workshops on drug trends, adolescent support, drug court and much more. Sarah Lennon also participated in the post-conference SBIRT(Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) training session. 





by Julianne DeAngelis, RCASA Outreach Coordinator

Certified Addictions Counselor (CADC-II), Licensed Addiction Counselor (LADC-I)

 Cape Cod Symposium

With the grant support of the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, I attended the 26th Annual Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders  at Hyannis from September 12th through the 15th.


The opening reception was followed by the "International Round Table" panel of 3 experts who spoke on the global view of addiction. They spoke of similarities and differences in American, European, Middle and Far Eastern issues and practices. All 3 experts expressed concern for the changes in perception toward marijuana in the U.S. as a "very dangerous" trend.


Ronald Smith, MD, PhD from the American Society of Addiction Medicine emphasized that "life as we find it is too hard for us" that leads people to diversions such as work, overmedication and addiction. Having a lifetime of experience in the field, from the military to civilian, he advocates for a therapeutic encounter vs. overmedicating.


Dr. Kevin Hill from McLean Hospital spoke at length about the medical marijuana issues calling the initiatives or laws highly controversial. He believes it will be a challenge to manage an addiction practice in an environment where stronger strains of cannabis are available for medicinal use saying "no major medical organizations have advocated for medical marijuana."


"The Synthetic Drug Craze" workshop included people from the West Coast to the East Coast to address the growing concern of those within law enforcement, schools, and health care.


Family systems impacted by disordered eating and its associated conditions carry legacies of loss. Typically families learn to adapt and survive using unhealthy behaviors and values which are transmitted across generations, not unlike substance use disorders.


Given the role of Reading in the new opioid collaborative I got special permission to attend a "physicians only" workshop sponsored by the New England Chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine where I heard addiction specialist medical doctors discussing the treatment of pain with opioids, increases in associated harm and the demand for treatment of opioid addiction. These conscientious physicians discussed clinical strategies to reduce the harm and misuse.




Chemical Health Education Program (CHEP) Update 


Office Santasky at Annual Meeting in 2013CHEP partners conducted a presentabout about their program at the RCASA Annual Meeting.  The partners include Reading Memorial High School, Reading Police and RCASA.  Officer Corey Santasky opened the presentation with a description of the legal issues. 
Tom Zaya, Assistant Principal of Athletics & Extracurricular Activities discussed the disciplinary process at the school level.  Sarah Lennon described the educational program.  Julianne DeAngelis explained the diversion program offered by the Reading Police Department in partnership with the juvenile and district courts in our region. We have served 77 local students and young adults from October 2012-September 2013.
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 Chemical Health violations only. 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 Partners with Reading Public Schools
Info Sharing
RCASA disseminated prevention products and educational materials at the Reading Fall Street Faire.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by to support our work, take materials or ask questions. Special thanks to Meghan Whelan and Emily Breen for helping out at the Faire.

Health Education Implementation: Elementary Level


Planning Team: K. Ammendolia and M. Hopkinson (Joshua Eaton), P. McCracken (Birch Meadow), S. Atwood (Barrows), D. Galdo (Killam), Tom Call (Wood End), and E. McNamara (RCASA) working with District Liaisons: Craig Martin, Tom Zaya and Paula Graham


The elementary educators met for 12 hours over the summer to review priority needs, assess risk factors, and choose corresponding curricula to meet our district needs. The team watched a short video message from the Youth Crew and reviewed health surveillance, childhood mortality, and law enforcement data to assess priority risks impacting K-5 children.  The team looked at the new program.


"Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Health & Wellness offers a flexible approach to health instruction that helps students develop a healthy foundation practicing ten essential skills and decision-making skills."


The team reviewed the new sample materials to plan Health Focus Weeks at their schools. The pilot program topic areas will include: Your Mind & Emotions; Friendships & Healthful Relationships; Resolving Conflict; Growing & Changing; Stress; Choosing Healthful Snacks; Grooming; Safety & Physical Activity; Staying Safe Around People; Using Medicines Safely; Tobacco, Alcohol and Diseases That Spread. The group chose 12 lessons to be taught by Elementary Health Educators and 2 lessons to be conducted by School Nurses.  Each building will pick 2 weeks during each marking term to complete the Health Focus weeks to include 10 to 12 classes per grade.


This fall, Tom Zaya, Craig Martin and Erica McNamara met to discuss teacher books needed for pilot program. Kathleen Ammendolia and Craig Martin finalized the letter about the program for elementary parents. The Planning Team met with the School Nurses to discuss collaboration on hygiene and nutrition lessons. The nurses reviewed materials and will follow-up with health educators after further discussion. In October, the Planning Team received the new teacher editions and met at Joshua Eaton to work on district performance measures and to finalize fall lesson plans. In the next few weeks, each school will send out the parent letter and begin the pilot process. Health Educators will use Implementation Logs to track their progress. The group will meet again on Dec. 9th to finalize winter lessons.

In the news...
In Massachusetts

Social Media Changes Story of 'Minor In Possession': North Andover Teen


In the U.S.

Tenacious Dad Honors Family Members Through Rx Prevention Efforts



RCASA Board of Directors Update
The Board met in June, August and September to develop the coalition and discuss board business.  The Board gathered for the RCASA Annual Meeting on September 26, 2013.  The Treasurer presented the annual report and it was accepted by the Board.
(Members L-R front row: John Doherty, Ruth Clay, Bob LeLacheur, Corey Santasky, Amy Vendt, Tom Zaya, Elaine Webb, Sophia Kalogeris, Meghan Whelan, Joanne Senders. Back row James Bonazoli, Chuck Robinson, Chief Cormier, Mary Ann Tillotson, Pat Shannon, Kevin Higginbottom, Ric Hand, and Rich Abate)
The Nominating Committee reviewed board membership needs and proposed changes.  The Board approved the following motions at the Annual Meeting:

A Board By-Laws adjustment was needed for one line under 4.4 MEMBERHSIP OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS that read: "1 Pharmacist appointed by the RCASA Board of Directors".  Board of Directors of RCASA adjusted the language of the by-laws as follows: "1 Pharmacist or Substance Abuse Organizational Representative appointed by the RCASA Board of Directors"


Board of Directors of RCASA appointed the following people to non-voting membership for terms expiring September 30, 2014:

  • Brian Snell, Associate Member, Business Sector Representative
  • James Dwyer, Associate Member, Government Sector Representative
  • Joanne Senders, Associate Member, Media Sector Representative
  • Melissa Roberto, Associate Member, Healthcare Representative
Board of Directors of RCASA re-appointed the following people as voting members for terms expiring September 30, 2014:
  • Sophia Kalogeris, Youth Member, Reading Memorial High School
  •  Meghan Whelan, Youth Member, Reading Memorial High School       
  • James Bonazoli, Selectman Member, Board of Selectman

Board of Directors of RCASA appointed the following people as voting members for terms expiring September 30, 2016:

  • Richard Abate, Parent Member (filling the vacant parent position)
  • Kevin Barile, Business Member (filling the position previously held by Maureen Hanifan representing the Reading Rotary Organization and RMLD)
  • Jason Moscato, Medical Provider & Substance Abuse Organization Member (filling the voting position previously held by Larry Berkowitz)

Board of Directors of RCASA appointed the following members of the RCASA Board of Directors to the respective offices of RCASA for terms expiring September 30, 2014

  • President              Elaine Webb
  • Vice President      Patrick Shannon
  • Secretary             Tom Zaya
  • Treasurer             John Doherty


  • 1 student representative of the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District who is a Reading Resident and whose term shall be for 1 year, alternated with a student representative of Austin Preparatory School who is a Reading Resident
For more information on the RCASA Board, email emcnamara@ci.reading.ma.us


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