by Nathan Evans
Asst. News Editor
* name changed due to sensitive topic
While some weaknesses and diseases are easy to spot, one group of Achilles’ heels is being overlooked more and more: addiction.
Amelia Jergens* was shocked when she found out her boyfriend of two years had been hiding his smoking addiction from her. Once she found out, he continued to smoke, despite being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He was also addicted to pornography and video games, often spending up to 12 hours a day on them.
“He missed cancer treatment appointments for these things,” said the UVU sophomore. With the majority of the addiction recovery focus on drugs and alcohol, other non-chemical addictions are often forgotten about such as overeating, video games, gambling and compulsive shopping, called omniomania.
“He would just disappear…for days,” said Jergens, “Once you see someone who’s so addicted to something like that, you realize anyone could be addicted to any one thing. Anyone you pass at UVU could have an addiction to something.”
Recently, UVU added a certification course for students wishing to become substance abuse counselors. After completing the class, students must also complete 4,000 hours—or 2,000 if they have a degree in behavioral or social science—as well complete the state-licensing exam. Currently, the state of Utah has 69 addiction recovery treatment centers and programs in place. For UVU, prescription pill abuse is a big problem, according to Sgt. Sprague, head of campus police.
“[drug problems] are bigger than people think they are,” Sprague said.
Despite lackluster performance in the past, UVU has taken steps to assist those suffering from addiction. Mark Lundholm, a comedian and recovering addict, performed his “Evening of 12-step humor” at UVU in September, humoring and educating his audience. Amy Lloyd, a 2006 UVU graduate, began a pornography addiction recovery program with help from Student Health Services. Based around the 12-step course, the program was presented at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association where it was highly praised. While the Alcoholics Anonymous group on campus is now defunct, Utah Valley has many other AA groups that meet in both English and Spanish.
In February, UVU will host the Mental Health Symposium. The third of its kind, the Symposium is structured to shed light on the mental health of the community at large and UVU. This year, the Symposium is focused wholly on addiction. Keynote speakers will discuss aspects of addictions and workshops will address the prevention, treatment, and recovery from addictions, both chemical and non-chemical.
Oftentimes, when attention is paid to addiction, the addict is the only person thought of. Family members, friends, associates who are hurt by the addiction are forgotten. For both the addict and those around the individual, it is important that addiction is prevented before recovery is necessary.