RCASA News & Updates
Summer Highlight
MA Opioid Law meetings began in Reading over the summer with our planning group 
  • Dr. Doherty, Supt. of Schools
  • Lynn Dunn, Director of School Nurses
  • Sara Burd, District Leader
  • Erica McNamara, RCASA Director
  • Tom Zaya, Assistant Principal & Director of Athletics/Extracurriculars

We reviewed the impact of the law and how Reading will implement the changes. A progress report was presented to the Reading School Committee in June, click here to view the presentation.  A key focus will be launching a pilot project this fall to verbally screen 9th graders at Reading Memorial High School using SBIRT.

RCASA Board of Directors

The 26-member Board continued to meet monthly and meeting details are available on the RCASA website.  We welcomed our newest board member from the Church of the Good Shepherd- Rev. Pete Jeffrey, Reading Clergy Council.

In April, Board Leaders and staff hosted our Federal Site Visit for Greg Grass, Drug Free Communities Project Officer.  The Site Visit included meetings at Reading Police Department and Reading Memorial High School.  Following his visit to Reading, Greg Grass, released his Site Visit report for our grant. Our coalition was compliant for all administrative and project management requirement s. 

The Board's most recent meeting was on June 30, 2016.  The Board will meet next on August 25th from 5:30-6:30 pm at the Reading Police Department.

Learn more

Stop by the RCASA booth on September 11 from 12-5 pm to learn more about our latest resources.
RCASA Website Change

As of 8/8/16, the RCASA Website shifted from Edline to the Rediker platform along with the Reading Public Schools


10th Annual RCASA Meeting-Thursday Sept. 29th
7-9 p.m. @ Reading Performing Arts Center 

Board of Directors, 9th Annual Meeting & IF ONLY screening
Our event will feature Coalition Highlights, Sen. Jason Lewis (reporting on the marijuana landscape in Massachusetts) and the compelling documentary Breaking Points .   This short documentary , directed by Tucker Capps, is intended for adults. The film explores the stress and pressures our teens face every day, as well as th e unhealthy ways that many of them cope, including abusing prescription
Need help...how about text support?
by Kelsey McCarthy, Youth Organizer

It's no secret that in this day in age, tee ns are much more comfor table hi di ng behind their phones than conversing with someone face to face. There's a lot to be said about the negative effects of teens spending more time texting
than having actual conversations but what some people don't realize is that there can actually be some positive aspects. Crisis Text Line is a program that provides 24/7 support for anyone who is in a crisis. Whether you a teen, young adult, or adult I think it is safe to say that it is easier to share your problems when there is some form of anonymity to it and that is exactly what this service provides.

Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text start to 7417 41 f rom anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.       

The reality of it is, texting has become a huge part of the day to day commu ni cation of today's generation. And not only that but more and more adults are conform ing to these new norms as well. A lot of people say that texting or messaging is just a way to hide behind your phone or computer screen and shouldn't be encouraged as our society's main form of communication. But sometimes being able to hide behind a screen is exactly what you need in order to come to terms with how you're feeling/what's going on in your life.

There's something very frightening and off putting about having to talk to someone about your problems face to face or even just having to hear yourself talk about them over the phone which texting eliminates. By being able to type out a message instead of verbally saying it makes it a lot easier for people to communicate about sensitive topics.
Families experience the ripple effects of addiction
by Julianne DeAngelis, Outreach Coordinator
Living with addiction can put family members under unusual stress. Normal routines are constantly being interrup ted by unexpected or even frightening k in ds of experiences that are part of living with alcohol and drug use. Wha t is being said often doesn't match up with what family m embers sense, feel beneath the surface or see right in front of their eyes. The alcohol or drug user as well as family members may bend, manipulate and deny reality in their attempt to maintain a family order. The entire system becomes absorbed by a problem that is slowly spinning out of control. Without help, active addiction can totally disrupt family life and cause harmful effects that can last a lifetime. This is why professionals including the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence often refer to addiction as a "family disease"

For friends and families of people suffering from addiction (alcohol and drugs, respectively), there are support groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.
While these support services are important for making connections with others experiencing similar situations, so is seeking professional therapy. Individual therapy for each family member, not just the person experiencing the substance use disorder, is important for the mental health of everyone affected and meeting with a therapist as a family can help improve communication, re-balance the family dynamic and give family members a safe environment to express their anger, fear and other concerns. Family therapy may also be helpful in preventing the children of adults suffering from substance use disorders from succumbi ng to the disease themselves.

Helpful Links for Family and Friends of Addicts and Alcoholics

RCASA and the Burbank YMCA will present a life-size exhibit of a teen's bedroom with clues that can signal drug and alcohol abuse. The bedroom identifies spots where teens may hide drugs, household items that can be used as drug paraphernalia and ways teens try to cover up drug and alcohol use. Our goal is to educate parents and other adults who are influential in the lives of youth so they know what seemingly innocent items can actually be an indication of substance abuse.  The exhibit will be on display at the Reading Police Department Community Room during the following time slots.   
  • Mon Oct. 17: 6-8 pm
  • Wed Oct 19: 8-11 am

  • Tues Oct. 18: 2:30-4:30 pm & 6-8 pm

The Importance of Safe, Supportive & Sober Housing
by Julianne DeAngelis, RCASA Outreach Coordinator

"Sober Home" is a broad term describing an interim sober, safe and h ealthy living environment. . . . . . . . 'not to be confused with a "Recovery Home" or "Halfway House"
What is a Sober House? The essential characteristics include:
  1. An alcohol and drug free living environment for individuals attempting to abstain from alcohol and drugs,
  2. No formal treatment services but either mandated or strongly encouraged attendance at 12-step self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  3. Required compliance with house rules such as maintaining abstinence, paying rent and other fees, participating in house chores and attending house meetings
  4. Resident responsibility for financing rent and other costs
  5. An invitation for residents to stay in the house as long as they wish provided they comply with house rules.
Sober Houses are structured in a way that avoids some of the limitations of halfway houses. Rich Winant, RCASA Board Member has been an industry leader in improving sober home oversight through his work with the Mass Association of Sober Housing  Rich is also the Director of
Kelly Sober House in Wakefield. 
"The mission of the Massachusetts Association of Sober Homes (MASH) is to create, evaluate and improve standards and measures of quality for all levels of Sober Homes. MASH provides a forum for exchanging ideas to include developing uniformity of nomenclature for our field, problem solving and advocacy. We assist existing regional associations in their growth, and foster the development of Sober Homes where none exist. MASH is the regional resource for Sober Homes providers seeking standards, protocols for ethical practice, training, and State of the art information pertaining to residential recovery operations."

"The Massachusetts Sober Housing Corporation (MSHC) is a non-profit corporation organized pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Our mission is to provide sober housing for individuals in recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction. The housing model we utilize, Oxford House, has been the most successful nationwide sober housing model."
RCASA Director Presents at National CADCA Conference
Professional Development Highlights
by Julianne DeAngelis, Outreach Coordinator
Julianne attended the 10th annual H.E.A.T. conference hosted by the Woburn District Court along with Lt. Richard Abate and Officer Kristin Stasiak. Several vendors had tables outside the conference hall. Included was a Hidden In Plain Site set up courtesy of the Program Coordinator.

A line up of presenters included: 
Stephen Wood, CNP from the Winchester Hospital Dept. of Emergency Medicine and works with addiction issues at the ED. There are 10 to 15 overdoses every month being treated at the Winchester ED.  Many of these overdoses were attributed to fentanyl. Without follow up care, the potential for subsequent overdose is high when a patient is discharged from the ED after an overdose reversal. Stephen is working with Rick Jolly of the Woburn Mayor's Coalition and Lahey Hospital Medical Center to organize a Recovery Coach program that will follow up with patients who have been treated for substance use. The importance of Narcan for overdose reversal was emphasized. However, because of the increased potency and use of fentanyl, a single Narcan dose or the new Narcan EVZIO epipen has not been proven to be effective.   To learn more, view the articles below:
Mike Higgins, HEAT Program Coordinator, addressed the importance of networking, education, treatment and partnerships in the community. He also is working with Winchester Hospital in gathering substance use overdose information as a police issue enabling less restrictions to access of information. Mike personally follows up on all ODs from the police department with a visit or phone call. He also emphasized the importance for increased marijuana awareness and mandatory parent education through the schools.
Dr. Ruth Potee, Greenfield physician and Board Certified in Addiction Medicine, has developed a public speaking following with her talk and PowerPoint on Causes, Effects and Damages of Addiction in The Brain. She makes a strong case for treating addiction as a disease comparing physical, mental, and addiction illnesses. She does not hold back on emphasizing the importance of parent's modeling productive ways to deal with stress, healthy coping instead of self medicating, and her concern for the potential grave effects of marijuana on the developing adolescent brain.
Watch Dr. Potee in action
Watch Dr. Potee in action
The conference was concluded with a personal account from Brian Teague, the director of Michael's House Sober Living and Woburn High graduate who has been in recovery since 2011.
Find resources to talk to your teen about underage drinking 
500 First Aiders Certified

With the support of our federal SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Grant, RCASA and Reading Public Schools trained 500 adults in Youth Mental Health First Aid over the last 18 months. The program covers the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. It uses role playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis, select interventions and provide initial help as well as connect young people to professional, peer, and self-help care.

Reading Mental Health First Aid
RCASA Community Education- Fall 2016
With the support of grant funding, RCASA is sponsoring the following free community education programs for adults that live, work or go to school in Reading, Massachusetts. Registration will be available through Reading Adult Education
Dates: Saturday November 5, 2016 from 9-4 pm
Date: Sat. November 19 from 9-4 pm
Dates: Tuesdays Nov. 8, 15, 29 from 6-8 pm
Dates: Tuesdays Dec. 6, 13, 20th from 6-8 pm
Reading Rx Round Up

Our medication collection program continues at Reading Police Department.  Bring your unwanted Rx to the Reading Police 24/7 Dropbox.  To help reduce prescription drug abuse, we encourage residents to:
  • Dispose of your meds properly
  • Store any remaining bottles safely and away from children and teens
  • Request a Deterra pouch from RCASA to deactivate drugs in your home.
Citizen Police Academy

Chief Mark D. Segalla is pleased to announce that the Reading Police Department will offer a Citizens Police Academy (CPA) for the first time in nine years this fall. The CPA will run from Sept. 14 to Nov. 9, with a graduation ceremony at the conclusion of the last class. Participation is free and sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 p.m. Class size is limited to 25 students. "The overall goal of the Citizens Police Academy is understanding through education," Chief Segalla said. "This will be an engaging and valuable experience, so we encourage any interested residents to apply for the academy." Interested participants can sign up for the academy by emailing Community Service Officer Kristen Stasiak at kstasiak@ci.readingma.us or calling 781-942-6752. More information about the CPA can be found at Reading Police Department.
Regional Projects

Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition:  RCASA worked with our par t ners from Medford, Malden, Melrose, Wa kefield, Stoneham and Winchester t o pro mote a stigma reduction initiative, which includes print and PSA advertising. The grou p also devel op a public restroom educati on campaign on overdose educati on.
Check it
Contact Jill Charie for info on S.O.A.R.
RCASA | 781.942.6793 | emcnamara@ci.reading.ma.us |