Collegiate Substance Use Disorder Conference convenes at UVU

Reading Time: 3 minutes On March 14, 2023, the Collegiate Substance Use Disorder Conference convened at UVU. The purpose of the meeting was “to address the challenges surrounding Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health.”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On March 14, 2023, Brighton Recovery Center and UVU Wellness Programs jointly sponsored the Collegiate Substance Use Disorder Conference in Center Stage of the Sorensen Student Center. The purpose is, according to Brighton Recovery Center: “to address the challenges surrounding Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health … [while] offer[ing] panel discussions on the topics of Substance Abuse and Mental Health issues within the community.”

The conference went from 2-6:30 p.m. and featured panel discussions, speakers, food with Olympic skier Nick Goepper, and booths representing various recovery centers across Utah. Among these booths were Brighton Recovery Center (Salt Lake City), Red Willow Counseling and Recovery (Salt Lake City), A/D Psychotherapy and Clinical Consulting (Sandy), Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness (USARA, Salt Lake City), Huntsman Mental Health Institute (Salt Lake City) and Nat-su Healthcare (Tooele).

Although many booths were present, each recovery center offers a distinctly unique blend of treatment options for individuals with specific needs. For example, some centers offer outpatient family support, while others provide intensive inpatient care with access to medical professionals. Furthermore, some services accept Medicaid while others only accept private health insurance. Regardless, however, all resources are available for individuals seeking help.

The panelist discussion featured industry experts Tommy Powers, a former Army soldier and Orem city police officer; Kayle Smith, a former Marine and assistant director of UVU Veteran Success Center; Richard Nance, an adjunct professor for UVU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Atteau [SP] Spencer, veteran and current UVU MBA student; and DoK Woods, UVU Student Health Services sports psychologist. Each panelist had personal experience in either personally overcoming or assisting others to overcome substance use disorder. 

Smith, who first experienced alcohol use disorder during his military service, shared a harrowing experience of when he was imprisoned during his service because of an alcohol-induced fight on base. Through the imprisonment, along with other, personal experiences, Smith made steps towards recovery. Now, “it’s been 20-plus years since … [he has] had a drink of alcohol.”

Since then, Smith has dedicated much of his life to helping soldiers. “I read a statistic … in preparation for this that 17 veterans take their lives every single day in the United States of America,” he stated. “I don’t know the percentage, but I can almost guarantee that almost every one of them are tied to some substance abuse.” 

Smith concluded, “So if you know veterans or military-connected people, if they are having problems, help them recognize the need to get help and to get support. … There is help out there.”

Also having walked the road of recovery, Powers knows what it is like to struggle. However, he, like Smith, also knows what it is like to help others walk the road of recovery. “As soon as I got out of treatment, I decided … that I wanted … to help other people,” Powers stated. “I decided to jump right into treatment and start helping others that I could help. And it’s been awesome.” 

Powers concluded, “Seeing individuals being able to come from the gates of hell — and being able to open those up — … is so beneficial to me, not only in my recovery but in society in general.”

Although the path toward recovery from substance use disorder is long and difficult, speakers and presenters at the Collegiate Substance Use Disorder Conference proved that there are resources and help available. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder or accompanying mental illness, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-(800) 662-HELP (4357). If you are a current student at UVU or are a spouse to a student, please reach out to UVU Mental Health Services at (801) 863-8876, or visit them on campus during business hours at SC 221.