Utah Valley University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Offers a One-of-a-Kind Addiction Conference on March 11

The annual UVU Conference on Addiction was postponed in 2020, but it returns in a virtual format this year with education, inspiration, and access to resources for professionals and community members.


Above: Featured speaker Mackenzie Phillips

The annual UVU Conference on Addiction was postponed in 2020, but it returns in a virtual format this year with education, inspiration, and access to resources for professionals and community members. Eleven years after its inception, the conference has never been more needed than it is now.

"The current pandemic has presented the addiction community with many additional challenges,” said Toni Harris, assistant dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Depression, isolation, and insecurity can lead to an increase in addictive behaviors. Those experiencing challenges may be less likely to reach out for help because of social distancing and the complications around attending group meetings or counseling sessions. It’s important that we investigate new ways of providing service and a way to connect with those who need services or resources. The conference offers information on new and proven ways to get help to those who need it — even in this challenging environment.”

Richard Nance, former director of the Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention, has been a key conference organizer since day one. According to Nance, this conference is unique in its affordability and accessibility, particularly for addiction and mental health professionals. “The UVU Conference on Addiction fills a niche for people who need CEU [continuing education unit] hours for licensing, and the curriculum we assemble is heavy on evidence-based and emerging practices, not fringe or unproven treatments,” Nance said. “Our goal all along has been to provide training that elevates the quality of addiction treatment in Utah County and the Wasatch Front. With the new recording opportunities afforded us in this year’s conference virtual format, we’re thrilled to be able to offer more CEUs than ever before.”

Harris feels that the virtual conference will provide unique benefits for attendees. “All of our sessions will be recorded and available in the conference platform until March 26, at 5 p.m.  All sessions will be available — no more missing out on one session as you attend another.”

This year’s virtual conference features actress and author Mackenzie Phillips. Phillips rose to fame with breakout parts in 1973’s “American Graffiti” and the 70’s sitcom “One Day at a Time.” After struggling with and overcoming a near-fatal addiction, Phillips became a visible and outspoken advocate for addiction awareness and education. In addition to roles on “Orange is the New Black” and the Netflix revival of “One Day at a Time,” Phillips works as a director at the Breathe Life Healing Center in Los Angeles, where she specializes in trauma, drug, and alcohol treatment and recovery. Phillips is also the author of The New York Times bestselling memoir High on Arrival.

Phillips will be joined by two plenary speakers, Jeffrey Quamme and Aaron Williams. Quamme has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit agencies, with expertise in medication-assisted recovery, co-occurring recovery, and group treatment. He currently works as the executive director at the Connecticut Certification Board. Williams is currently an adviser on all substance use initiatives at the National Council of Behavioral Health. He brings over 16 years of experience in substance abuse treatment services and mental health services integration.

In addition to the keynote and plenary speakers, the conference will include a variety of concurrent sessions on topics such as recovery support, pornography addiction, the impact of social media on adolescents, the relationship between substance use and domestic violence, and more.

“The annual UVU Conference on Addiction is a clearinghouse for information and education on various aspects of addiction,” said Harris. “We need this information. We need this inspiration. And above all, we need to better understand those struggling in their addiction — and how to support them in the best, most impactful, and effective ways. The conference is a step in that direction. UVU is proud to be a part of this annual event.”

The UVU Conference on Addiction will be held on Thursday, March 11, 2021, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Attendees will be able to earn up to 11 NASW-endorsed CEUs, plus one ethics credit and one suicide prevention credit. Registration is $65 and includes the CEUs and access to all conference materials, including conference recordings, until Friday, March 26 at 5 p.m. Registration will remain open until Wednesday, March 10. Current UVU students are welcome to attend the conference free of charge.

For more information, visit uvu.edu/chss/addiction/