5 minute read

The SOS Berks Opioid Coalition

“Stop Overdoses, Save Lives”

In January 2016, as a local response to the emerging opioid epidemic, the Berks Opioid Task Force was organized by key community leaders from local government, criminal justice, drug and alcohol, healthcare, social services, and the business community. With the recognition that the scope of this epidemic required a strong collaborative approach, the Task Force evolved into the SOS Berks Opioid Coalition. SOS Berks works to facilitate connections with our community and its stakeholders to create initiatives that address the crisis. The coalition meets monthly and has subcommittees that focus on Community Awareness and Outreach, Healthcare and Treatment, Data Collection and Assessment, Prevention and Education, and Community Safety.

Moving forward, the focus of SOS Berks is to expand efforts that contribute to the reduction of drug-related deaths and to overcome barriers to prevention, treatment, and recovery in Berks County. The Coalition is represented by a wide range of stakeholders from all sectors of the community and continues to grow its membership. The strength of SOS Berks is the dedication of its members. As the Coalition enhances and expands these relationships to increase its connection and visibility in our community, a unique opportunity exists to create meaningful, systemic, and sustainable changes capable of addressing all current and future drug threats.

Current Community Stakeholders

Albright College Alvernia University Berks Coalition to End Homelessness Berks Community Health Center Berks Connections/Pretrial Services Berks Counseling Center Berks Country Department of Emergency Services Berks County Children and Youth Services Berks County Commissioners Berks County Community Foundation Berks County Detectives Berks County HealthChoices Program Berks County Intermediate Unit Berks County Jail System Berks County Medical Society Berks County Office of Aging Berks County Office of Mental Health/ Developmental Disabilities Berks County Office of Probation and Parole Berks County Office of the Coroner Berks County Office of the District Attorney Berks County Office of Veteran Affairs Caron Treatment Services Centro Hispano City of Reading Police Community Care Behavioral Health Organization Council on Chemical Abuse DoubleTree of Reading Drug-free Workplace PA Easy Does It Esterbrook Pharmacies GEO Group Haven Behavioral Health/ Transformations Hoffmann Publishing Group Kutztown University LGBT Center NAACP Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks, Inc. New Directions Treatment Services Penn State Berks Campus Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge Pennsylvania Counseling Services Pennsylvania National Guard Reading Area Community College Reading Hospital Tower Health Reading-Berks Association of Realtors Safe Berks Service Access Management Southern Berks Regional EMS Treatment Access and Services Center United Way of Berks County University of Pittsburgh Program Evaluation & Research Unit Western Berks EMS YMCA of Reading and Berks County

In Their Own Words, Why SOS Berks?

Cory Trevena, Caron Treatment Centers

“SOS Berks responded to the devastation of the opioid epidemic by creating a coalition of diverse community members gathered around one goal: to save lives. Most of us have been personally impacted by this epidemic. We work diligently to make sure everyone has access to the compassionate support they need.”

Joi Honer , Retreat Behavioral Health and The Recovery Advocacy Project

“The stigma around substance use disorder is a barrier to people getting help. SOS works together to educate the community about the disorder and recovey through media, education and awareness campaigns. Subcommittees create a multifaceted approach has increased awareness, understanding and encouraged compassion, central to helping people get well.”

Beth Derr, Friedens Lutheran Church, Oley

“SOS Berks collaborates well with community organizers, and it continues to serve a very relevant need in our county. The coalition is committed to saving lives by offering education and training and promoting treatment for opioid/substance use disorder. Providing access to naloxone throughout our communities is a continued priority.”

Lydia Singley, County of Berks

“I joined SOS Berks to help mitigate the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

William Santoro, MD Tower Health System

“Berks SOS has increased the awareness of the problem in Berks County, helped reduce the stigma of substance use and disseminated information about treatment available. In doing so, Berks SOS has saved many lives in Berks County.”

John Adams, District Attorney

“The Opioid Epidemic is a wat that needs to be fought on multiple fronts: Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement. SOS Berks has brought the leaders of all the fronts of this war together to combat this epidemic.”

Amanda Miller, Berks Counseling Center

“SOS Berks is so impactful because the committee really looks at all perspectives, in order to address the Opioid Crisis. They do this by reducing the stigma of addiction and getting the resources, that are available, to those in need.”

Ramona Roberts, PsyD, Caron Outpatient Treatment Center

“SOS Berks has helped with raising the awareness, reducing the stigma, and providing support and resources not just to those who are in the midst of addiction themselves, but to our community which to me just grows our empathy and helps us to be better humans to one another.”

Jessica Jones, Berks County Area Agency on Aging

“SOS Berks has worked to educate older adults in Berks County on safe and secure medication disposal. The coalition also has worked hard to provide on going community education on the opioid epidemic in Berks County, address the stigma related to drug use and has made Narcan accessible to the community to prevent overdose death.”

Kathy Strain, Drug Free Workplace PA

“The SOS Coalition has helped to raise awareness to the opioid overdose and substance use crisis in Berks county. In doing so, the members have helped to create positive change for people with a substance use disorder and their families which in turn leads to more of our community members finding long term sustained recovery.”

Ken Lebron, Berks County Veterans Affairs

“Bringing awareness to a community and fostering a community collaborative is the first step for any community intend on ending substance use overdoses. Together, we agree to take a stand in this continued fight against drugs.”

Bonnie Triebig, Berks Counseling Center

“The work of SOS Berks is invaluable to our community – they have worked tirelessly to address the opioid epidemic from all directions. SOS Berks recognizes that prevention and stigma reduction are just as important as enhancing treatment and access to Narcan.”

Jaclyn Steed, Council on Chemical Abuse

“The work of SOS Berks helps decrease the stigma of substance use disorder for those suffering and their families in Berks County. Education efforts of the collation have created awareness that this disease can happen to anyone. EVERYONE needs to understand what prevention strategies can be put in place and there is help and support available.”