Monday, October 26, 2009

Volunteer Spotlight: Gwen Cichocki, Outreach Support

Gwen Cichocki is a longtime volunteer with us in our Outreach Center. For several years, she's come in once a week to work in the clothes closet, restock supplies, and do many other small but necessary jobs to help out the outreach team. In this video by Will Leitz, Gwen talks about the work she does, and why it's personal for her. We couldn't do what we do without the help of people like Gwen!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Long-Term and Visible Approach to Recovery

The New York Times has a nice article on the growing network of peer-to-peer services for recovering persons in Philadelphia. Specifically, they mention the Philadelphia Recovery Community Center, which focuses on more long-term recovery support than was traditionally available. The model is considered a promising practice.

Views are shifting toward recovery as a long-term process, and also toward greater visibility.

“One of the most important things we’ve done in Philadelphia is to create a vibrant and visible recovery community,” said Arthur C. Evans, who has led the city’s transformation over the past five years as chief of behavioral health. “Hundreds of people are speaking out about being in recovery, and that’s having a tremendous impact on people who may not think they’re ready to change.”
While treatment centers like BCI continue to protect confidentiality, many people in treatment choose to "go public" about their recovery in order to connect with and take advantage of what the peer-to-peer community has to offer. If this helps more people prevent relapse and make greater progress than they had before, then it must be a good thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bill Gates Brings HIV Outreach to India

One of the counselors here directed me to a very interesting video on HIV prevention in India. Bill Gates’ foundation is partnering with the transgender Aravaani population to do some innovative and much-needed outreach work. We don’t often hear about HIV/AIDS in this part of the world or this population in particular. As you’ll see, they're using a prevention strategy that’s quite similar to the NIDA Community Outreach model BCI uses, in that a high risk population is being trained as peer educators, harmful behaviors are discussed candidly, and outreach workers are bringing services to where their clients are, like beauty salons. This looks like great work and hopefully it will have an impact.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Delaware's Homeless Veteran Stand Down

On Sunday October 31, 2009, the Homeless Planning Council of Delaware will be hosting the first Delaware 2009 Stand Down/Veterans’ Employment Expo. This will be a one day event to begin at 9 am and end at 5 pm. This event will take place at the Nur Temple, 198 South DuPont Highway, New Castle, Delaware located on route 13 just before the 13/40 split.

Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 200,000 homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets.

The schedule of activities is as follows:

9-10 am - Breakfast & Registration (Quick Registration is done at the door; however every Veteran needs to be registered with the VA inside of the Stand Down Room)

10-12 pm - VA Services Discussion (Veterans will have the opportunity to hear about all of the services offered at the VA Medical Center – time will be allowed for Veterans to visit the different ‘departments’ and to have individual conversations about the services provided.)

12–1 pm - Lunch & Networking

1-2 pm - Job Expo, Hair Cuts/Clothing Closet

2-4 pm - Community Providers Discussion (Community Providers will be set up at each of the 9 tables for Veterans to hear about the services offered in the community – time will be allowed for Veterans to have individual conversations about the services provided.)

4-4:30 pm - Fashion Show/Job Expo, Hair Cuts/Clothing Closet

4:30–5 pm - Closing Ceremony, Receive Backpacks o’ Goodies

· AA Meetings will be held in the Small Room during the VA Services Discussion and Community Providers Discussion times

· Volunteers will be available to assist Veterans to complete Forms during the Registration, Lunch, and Free Times (1-2 and 4-4:30)

Transportation will be provided to veterans throughout the State. For more information about transportation pick-up locations and times, please contact Susan Starrett at (302) 654-0126.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Treatment Cuts Recidivism Nearly in Half

From the Harm Reduction Coalition:

Criminal offenders who completed in-prison and community-based treatment were far less likely to end up back in prison than those who did not get services, according to a new report from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). reported Oct. 8 that the report -- released as the state of California planned to slash funding for prison-based treatment programs -- found that the return-to-custody rate among treatment graduates was 21.9 percent at one year and 35.3 percent after two years, compared to 39.9 percent and 54.2 percent, respectively, for all offenders.

The research showed that treatment was especially affected for female offenders, just 8.8 percent of whom reoffended within a year of release if they completed treatment. That compared to a recidivism rate of 30.1 percent overall. After two years, the recidivism rate was 16.5 percent for women who completed treatment, compared to 43.7 percent among all offenders.

That's an impressive return on treatment.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Give An Hour" Offers Free Counseling for Veterans

One of my co-workers told me about a great program today that I wanted to pass along. Give An Hour offers free therapy sessions to veterans and their families. The sessions are donated by licensed mental health professionals, one hour a week, free of charge, to anyone who is or has been affected by the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of our staff at BCI Alpha is taking part in this program through his private practice with a client who's served multiple tours in Afghanistan. This is a wonderful idea and there is sure to be great demand. If you would like to find a participating provider or become a volunteer, visit

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Take a "Mental Health Day" October 10

Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The celebration is part of a global awareness campaign by the World Federation for Mental Health. The organization works to improve attitudes about mental illness; promote mental health and prevent mental illness; and improve the care, treatment, and recovery of people with mental illness.

So, take a "mental health day" this Saturday! Here's a video to help you do that, courtesy of Osocio Weblog. What makes you smile? British balloons singing? Yeah, that'll do it for me. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

SAMHSA Warns About Deadly Cocaine Cutting Agent

According to a SAMHSA alert, substance abuse treatment providers, clinicians, outreach workers, and individuals who abuse cocaine need to be aware of the following:

A dangerous substance, levamisole, is showing up with increasing frequency in illicit cocaine powder and crack cocaine. Levamisole can severely reduce the number of white blood cells, a problem called agranulocytosis. THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS ILLNESS THAT NEEDS TO BE TREATED AT A HOSPITAL. If you use cocaine, watch out for:
* high fever, chills, or weakness
* swollen glands
* painful sores (mouth, anal)
* any infection that won’t go away or gets worse very fast, including sore throat or mouth sores -skin infections, abscesses -thrush (white coating of the mouth, tongue, or throat) -pneumonia (fever, cough, shortness of breath).”

SAMHSA said that about 20 cases of the dangerous blood disorder agranulocytosis -- characterized by decreased white blood-cell counts -- have been linked to use of cocaine cut with levamisole. More cases are expected based on drug-sample testing that shows increased use of levamisole as a cutting agent. In Seattle, for example, 80 percent of individuals who tested positive for cocaine also tested positive for levamisole. Levamisole is not approved for human use but is used to treat parasitic infections in cattle, sheep and swine.

BCI staff have learned from SAMHSA that one case was in fact in Delaware. Our staff on the needle exchange are warning people. This is very serious for our HIV+ and other immuno-compromised clients.