Council Administrative Offices | 215.345.6644 -- Information, Intervention, Recovery Support Line | 1.800.221.6333

Monthly Archives: November 2014

We Take Care of Our Own


On Tuesday, December 2, charities, families, schools and many other organizations around the country and the world come together to celebrate generosity and to give back.  This year The Council and PRO-ACT are launching our first ever peer-to-peer giving fundraising initiative and we are turning to you, as past and present supporters of recovery, to help us make this campaign a success.

This effort to generate support for recovery will allow us to continue to provide prevention, advocacy and recovery support to individuals and families wishing to access recovery or stop the inter-generational transmission of addiction in our community.  

Research tells us that if an individual with a diagnosis of a substance use disorder (addiction) is supported and able to remain abstinent for 5 years, there is an 86% probability of life long recovery.  A remarkable statistic when compared with other chronic illnesses!  

Over the past year The Council’s Recovery Support/Recovery Management programs provided services to 2100 individuals to help them access and sustain life long recovery.  Our Prevention early intervention programs provided services to 217 families to help them stop the inter-generational transmission of this disease to their children and 45 pregnant and postpartum women were served through our MOMS program helping to preserve the next generation.  With your support we can do more!

Your investment in recovery embodies the spirit of the adage “we take care of our own” and with your help, we can continue to play a significant role to ensure the continuation and success of these vital services.  In the links below you will find many ways to support recovery in this season of giving.  Please join us. 

Scrip gift card program:

Tree of Hope:

Giving Tuesday supporting our MOMS Program:

With gratitude,

Beverly J. Haberle, M.H.S., L.P.C., C.A.C.
Executive Director
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.
Project Director, PRO-ACT

40 Assets and Family Dinners

Family eatingThe Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets are the building blocks of development that help children grow up healthy, caring and responsible. According to the Search Institute, studies consistently show that the more protective factors that young people have, the more likely they are to be prepared for life and the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behaviors.

How can I incorporate the 40 Assets in my home?
One way to get things started is to encourage regular family dinners. This is a simple event that has become few and far between in many households. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), children that eat dinner with their parents regularly are less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke, and that parent/child engagement around the dinner table is one of the most powerful tools in helping parents to raise healthy, drug-free children.

My family has been affected by addiction. Is it too late for us?
No! While it may have been a tougher road for those children who grew up with one or more parents struggling with a substance use disorder, children are very resilient. It is never too late to begin building assets. In these cases, there is a need to boost assets in other areas of the child’s environment. Research shows that children at high risk still have a chance to bounce back and grow up to be happy, confident and successful individuals. It is just a matter of strengthening support in other areas to make up for those that may be lacking. Another important factor is to create and/or maintain family rituals. If these rituals continue, even if parents are struggling with substance use disorders, children are less likely to become involved with alcohol or other drugs.

Protective factors can be provided in the home, school, church, or in the general community.  These factors are divided into two categories, in a total of eight areas:

External: Things that other people provide for youth in the home, school and community:
Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them.
Empowerment: Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.
Boundaries and Expectations: Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.
Constructive Use of Time: Young people need opportunities outside of school to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.

Internal: The attitudes, values and capabilities within each child:
Commitment to Learning: Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.
Positive Values: Young people need to develop strong guiding values to help them make healthy life choices.
Social Competencies: Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.
Positive Identity: Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel they have control over the things that happen to them.      

Check out the full list of the 40 Developmental Assets and other great family resources here: (40 Developmental Assets) (South Bend Kroc Center “Ideas for Parents” newsletter)
(Search Institute’s “Family Assets List”)
(Parent Further article “Building Family Assets at Home: Ideas for All Family Members”) (CASA study, “Importance of Family Dinners VIII”)

Jessica Schwartz
Prevention Specialist
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Parents…The #1 Prevention Tool

Parents-should-always-talk-to-their-kids-about-drugsParents Have the Power!
Parents – did you know that you are the most powerful prevention tool in your child’s life? Contrary to popular belief, your influence is greater than that of peers, the Internet and social media! This fact is backed by over 35 years of scientific research. Engaging in on-going dialogue with your child about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) is one of the best strategies you can employ to improve your child’s outlook for a healthy, drug-free future.

When to have the talk.
Using ATOD is a decision that youth are being forced to make at increasingly earlier ages. The average child takes his or her first drink at age 12. The earlier parents begin dialogue with their children about drug and alcohol prevention, the less likely they are to turn to these substances when they reach adolescence. The conversation and language will sound different depending on the child’s age. Information should be age-appropriate. For instance, early elementary children should understand the difference between food and poison, medicine and illegal drugs, but older children should understand the risks and short- and long-term consequences of ATOD, including addiction. Continue the dialogue, even throughout the college years.

What should you say? 
The former “just say no” approach of the Nancy Reagan era is not effective. It is important to teach your child how  to say “no” to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) and specifically what to say or do in certain situations. Practice different scenarios to allow your child to think about how he or she would respond when presented with various situations. You can even make it fun! Encourage your child to use you as an excuse (e.g. “My mom would kill me if she found out I was drinking beer!”).

The brain continues to develop until age 25, and so a child’s biological ability to make good decisions on their own is not mature. Parents should set specific boundaries and rules around the acceptance of drug and alcohol use. Children will not assume that you disapprove of their use of alcohol and other drugs; it must be explicitly stated, as well as consequences of breaking the rules. If you are unclear about your position, children may be confused and tempted to experiment. Research shows that children who chose to avoid ATOD did so because they did not want to disappoint their parents. When parents establish clear, consistent “no use” rules, their children are more likely to lead alcohol- and drug-free lives.

Parents are sometimes hesitant to engage in ATOD conversation for fear of being questioned about their own use as a teen. Whether you are in recovery or had experimented with drugs as a teen, you can use your own experience to convey a prevention message. Honesty is fine, but do avoid glamorizing any past use or providing too much detail. Instead, emphasize the negative consequences that resulted from your use. In addition, let your child know that much has changed since you were a teen. This includes the purity of drugs like heroin, the strength of THC in marijuana and nicotine in tobacco products and the proliferation of prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse. In addition, new brain research reveals that early ATOD use can cause permanent brain cell damage and vulnerability to addiction.

How should you have the talk?
Find teachable moments. In the age of technology and instant access to news and other information, the subject of ATOD is unavoidable. Celebrities or professional athletes in the news due to drug use, and the negative consequences, could spark a meaningful dialogue. Ask about your child’s opinion on a book or character, movie or TV show, local and national news. If a friend or family member is struggling with addiction, help your child process this by having a conversation about it.

Family dinners and driving in the car offer ideal opportunities to start a conversation about ATOD. The dialogue should go two-ways. Ask open-ended questions to encourage a more in-depth conversation with your child. Ask what he or she knows or has heard about ATOD.

What else can you do to utilize your power as a parent?
Have daily positive interactions with your child. Children are less likely to engage in ATOD use when their parents are involved in their lives and when they share a close bond. Educate yourselves about ATOD and current drugs trends. Much of the information available online is pro-drug, so if your child or his or her peers obtain their information via the Internet, most likely it will be one-sided. It is important that your child knows he or she can come to you for accurate information, and that you are equipped to dispel any myths he or she may have read online or heard from a friend. Children are 50% less likely to use ATOD if they learn the risks of drugs from their parents.

One in four children is exposed to a substance use disorder in the family. Inform your child that addiction has a strong familial component. If you or an immediate family member is in recovery or has struggled with addiction, it is important that your child understands that this increases his or her overall risk of developing an addiction. The risk is both genetic and environmental; research shows that children of parents with substance use disorders are more than five times more likely to develop an ATOD-related problem than children in families without them. This familial component paired with the high level of risk-taking inspired by the teen brain increases a young person’s risk of becoming addicted even more.

Teen prescription drug misuse has increased in recent years. This is attributed to a lowered perception of harm in misusing medications because they are legal and prescribed by a doctor. In reality, some prescription drugs, particularly the opioid-based narcotics, are equally as harmful as street drugs such as heroin when misused. Parents can help educate their children about the risks involved. In addition to the health risks, it is illegal to give or sell prescription drugs to someone for whom the prescription was not intended, yet 70% of people who misuse prescription pain relievers say that they obtain them from family or friends.

Parents can restrict access to any medications they may be prescribed by locking up their medicine cabinet or storing the medications in a secure place, as well as counting and monitoring the number of pills. If parents have any medications that are unwanted, expired or unneeded, they may dispose of them in any of the 31 permanent medication drop boxes that are located in police departments throughout Bucks County as well as the Bucks County Courthouse.

To find a drop box near you, visit for Bucks County; for Montgomery County; for Delaware County; for Chester County locations. For an update on medication drop boxes in Philadelphia County and locations statewide, please visit the interactive state map on the website of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) at:

Alcohol and drug use can be prevented and prevention starts with you! Never underestimate your power to prevent substance abuse. To educate yourself about ATOD and remain up-to-date on the latest trends, as well as to obtain ideas for talking to your kids about ATOD, please visit the following sites:  (Partnership for Drug-free Kids) (National Institute on Drug Abuse) (MADD) (Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking ([ICCPUD]) (DEA) (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Unleash your parent power and get together with your kids…before drugs do!

Melanie Swanson, M.Ed., CTTS
Prevention Specialist
The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.

Does Being Tired Really Affect My Recovery?

tiredEverybody gets tired to varying extents. Being tired can take a significant toll on your body, mind and spirit. It can also often contribute to feelings of depression. We all need to relax as well as make sure we are getting the right amount of sleep, especially in recovery.  We have all heard the expression “you will never die from lack of sleep. Well truth be said, lack of sleep may not be fatal, but insomnia, for the person in recovery, can lead to relapse which can be fatal or at minimum lead to a negative outcome which could have been prevented.

Insomnia is all too common among so many of us today. It is a double edged sword for both the person in active addiction as well as the person in early recovery.

 It is a specific problem for those in an addiction whose sleep is constantly being disrupted by the brain altering effects of the chemicals being ingested. Our sleep habits are governed by what are called circadian rhythms. These are cyclical patterns in the brain that regulate our neurological activity during the nighttime hours allowing us to sleep. Drugs and alcohol impact every natural process in our bodies including these circadian rhythms.

Though sleep is one of the first things to come back into place in early recovery as the brain repairs, typically within 60 to 90 days, this time can be especially difficult. Similarly, in early recovery, it is not uncommon to still be disconnected from our feelings. Oftentimes we may feel uncomfortable but may not recognize the origin of that feeling. We may ignore tiredness at times or be so disconnected from our feelings that we misinterpret fatigue for fear or irritability or sadness or a multitude of other emotions. The first important step is to not ignore or even to recognize that we are tired.

During these first 3 months as a person moves to a restoration of more positive sleep functioning it is very easy to look to the use of sedatives and hypnotics to “fix” the insomnia.  Knowledge, patience through mindfulness and awareness, and life skills play an important role in riding the wave through this period of insomnia and conquering this trigger.

So, let’s take some time to review some of the facts we have identified above about why being tired REALLY does effect recovery.

  • During active addiction your body’s natural sleep rhythms are disturbed.
  • Sleep disturbances are common in early recovery and are part of the post- acute withdrawal process.
  • Your sleep requirements may change in transition from addiction to recovery.
  • Your body must re-establish regular sleep cycles in the absence of drugs and alcohol and this may take several weeks to months
  • Most sleep problems resolve themselves without medical treatment
  • You should avoid any temptation to self- medicate with prescribed or over the counter sleep aids unless it is supervised by a physician trained in addiction medicine

Some key tips for dealing with tiredness in early recovery are:

  • Set a consistent time for going to bed
  • Create a good sleeping environment
  • Avoid daytime naps
  • Get exercise early in the day and not before bedtime
  • Eliminate or reduce the intake of caffeine
  • Avoid large late meals
  • Minimize activities other than sleeping in your bed such as watching TV. eating, reading etc.
  • Learn and utilize relaxation techniques, visualization, relaxation, mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises.

At PRO-ACT’s Recovery Centers, we offer many programs which will support the development of healthy practices of meditation, mindfulness, stress reduction and yoga, all of which will help you with the issue of insomnia and/or being tired in early recovery.

The Philadelphia Recovery Community Center is offering a 9 week class on Stress Reduction and Relaxation on Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 –November 4-30

The Southern Bucks Recovery Community Center has Yoga on Monday evenings at 6:30 two times per month and a quarterly four week series on Wholistic Recovery which includes mindfulness meditation. Tuesday mornings at 10:30 there is also a Stress Management group.

The Central Bucks Recovery Resource Center has a Health and Wellness group which meets every Monday evening form 7:30- 8:30 which also addresses meditation, yoga and stress management.

All of the above listed programs are great opportunities for you to learn ways to ride the wave of insomnia and feeling tired in early recovery (or at any time) and develop new practices for healthy living. For more information on any of these programs contact our PRO-ACT volunteer coordinators: In Philadelphia John Carlson at 215-923-1661 and She-Ria Bethea at 215-223-7700 x102; in Southern Bucks call Karen Burke at 215-788-3738 x100 and in Central Bucks contact Rick Petrolawicz at 215-345-6644 x3151

Bucks County Coordinator of Recovery Support Services
The Council of Southeast PA, Inc.

Bailiwick Office Campus Unit 12, 252 West Swamp Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901 | 215.345.6644


Advocacy |  Prevention  |  Information Dissemination & Training  |  Intervention |  Recovery Support