Addictions Conference


The Addictions Conference is hosted by PennWest California’s Counselor Education and Social Work programs via a Health Resources and Services administration (HRSA) Opioid Workforce Expansion program (OWEP) grant. The HRSA OWEP program enhances community-based experiential training for students preparing to become behavioral health professionals with a focus on Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and other Substance Use Disorders (SUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Through this program an annual Addictions Conference will be held through 2022. The conference has moved to a virtual seminar series format due to Covid-19. See below for conference recordings. Contact with any questions.

A graphic of a ticket for the Addictions Conference 2020: Innovations in Prevention event.



Spring 2022 Seminar Series: Schedule with Recordings


Friday February 11th, 2022: Noon – 1PM
Multigenerational Recovery: Women, Their Children and Substance Use Care
Presenter(s): Jessianne Montie (LPC, CAADC) & Mandy Fauble (PhD, LCSW)
Most women seeking services for substance use disorder have experienced significant trauma, and many of these women are also mothers. This session explores the links between trauma, substance use disorder and family life. Identify how the challenges of trauma and substance use disorder create critical risk factors for both mothers and their families, but also how they can be mitigated with family focused approaches.

Tuesday February 15th, 2022: 3PM – 4PM
Methamphetamine Use in PA: Separating Facts and Myths
Presenter(s): Crystal Parish (MS, LPC)
The rise in Methamphetamine use brings many challenges to our local communities and individuals serving these communities, such as law enforcement, first responders, and treatment providers. Participants will learn how to recognize Methamphetamine use in the populations they serve, and how to implement evidenced based treatment interventions.

Friday February 18th, 2022: Noon – 1PM
Attune, Affirm, Advocate: Assisting LGBTQ+ People Diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders
Presenter(s): David Loeffler (LPC, NCC)
This session will discuss the use of LGBTQ+ affirming skills and techniques for providing treatment to LGBTQ+ individuals who are diagnosed with substance use disorders. Attendees will learn how to attune themselves to LGBTQ+-specific concerns and knowledge, effectively practice affirming care, and advocate for LGBTQ+ clients within their profession and community.

Tuesday February 22nd, 2022: 3PM – 4PM
Treating Older Adults with Substance Use Disorder
Presenter(s): Amy Couslin (MSW, LSW) & Terri Averi (MSN)
The number of older adults with substance use disorder is increasing. Learn about the systems impacting older adults, common screening tools, treatment options, and common medications used among this population. Ideal for anyone interested in health care, counseling, group work, public health, older adults, and/or addiction treatment services.

Friday February 25th, 2022: Noon – 1PM
The Goals you Set for Yourself - Creating Your Own Self-Care Plan
Dawn Lucas (MS) & Kelley Storey (MSW, LSW)
What is “self-care” and why is it so important? How does work-place stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue impact you? What activities can we engage in to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our health and well-being? Learn the various aspects of self-care, self-care techniques and opportunities and create the foundation of your own self-care plan.

Fall 2021 Seminar Series: Schedule with Recordings

Friday November 5th, 2021: Noon – 1PM
Providing recovery services and being in recovery - Navigating the needs of a medically underserved community
Presenter(s):  Janice McCall (PhD, MSW, LSW) & Joseph Pagano (BSW, LBSW, CRS)
COVID-19 has impacted the service delivery models for recovering SUD clients. Serving a medically-underserved area and an examination on supervision, peer groups, and clinical strategies to maintain rapport will be discussed. A parallel reflective process will also be shared by the perspective of our presenter who is also in recovery.

Tuesday November 9th, 2021: 3PM – 4PM
Training MSW students on recognition and treatment of Substance Use Disorders
Presenter(s): Natalie Montero (MSW), Susan Packard (PhD, LPC, CRC, NCC, MAC), & Elaine Rinfrette (PhD, LCSW, RN)
This presentation will address the prevalence of SUD seen in all forms of social work practice and the importance for students to be prepared to assess for these disorders, understand their impact on clients and their families, and know how to treat these clients or refer them to appropriate treatment.  

Friday November 12th, 2021: Noon – 1PM
Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania: Is it hope or sabotage for treatment of Opioid Use Disorder?
Presenter(s):  Mary Rudberg (PhD, LPC, CAADC, CRC) & Michelle Sabol (BS)
Medical Marijuana is the latest treatment that has entered the scene in treating opioid use disorder (OUD). Learn more about PA policies, qualifying conditions, and the pros and cons of Medical Marijuana recommendations for treating OUD.

Tuesday November 16th, 2021: 3PM – 4PM
How reducing stigma, barriers, and using SBIRT approaches can Increase early intervention
Presenter(s): Ashley Potts (MSW, LCSW), James Walnoha (BBA) & Ama Danso-Ayesu (MSEd)
The opioid crisis, accelerated by COVID-19 is devastating our communities and straining the healthcare system. Learn how stigma and barriers impede healthcare quality and what Highmark Health is doing to combat stigma and create recovery friendly workplace environments.

Fall Series Extras - Student Presentations

Addictions Conference Extras! Check out these addictions focused presentations by graduate students Baleigh Gray, Emily Behm, (School Counseling) and Joshua Chodrow (Clinical Mental Health Counseling). As part of the PennWest California Opioid Workforce Expansion Program these students completed a 15 min presentation on a research project of their choice, including: 

Treatment Options that Work: Understanding How and Why to Address Adolescent SUD/OUD (B. Gray) 

Risk Factors for Addiction at the Elementary Level (E. Behm)

Non-traditional Approaches to Non-traditional Approaches to Addictions Counseling (J. Chodrow)

2020 Addictions Conference: Schedule with Recordings

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2020 Addictions Conference. Recordings for the sessions are available below by clicking the title. We are unable to provide certificates for viewing the recorded sessions. If you would like to be added to our email list to be notified of future training opportunities please email

September 4, 2020, 12 - 1 pm
Appalachia Mourning: The Opioid Epidemic as a Symptom of Cultural Trauma
Presenter: Rayelle Davis (MSEd, NCC, LCPC)
An educational session on how the cultural factors of rural America relate to the opioid epidemic including current treatment limitations. How can current treatment modalities be adjusted to address the underlying issues that have allowed the opioid epidemic to rage through an entire population and perhaps prevent the next one from beginning?  

September 9, 2020, 3 - 4 pm
Reducing Fatal Opioid Overdose; Prevention and Treatment (no recording available)
Presenter: Shannon Brogdon (MS)
The Opioid Overdose Prevention Program presentation reviews a quality study completed on an inpatient dual diagnosis unit that addressed reducing fatal opioid overdose; prevention and treatment. The program included group, individual, and family education on overdose prevention, and offering to the patient/family Narcan Rescue Kits. 

September 18, 2020, 12 - 1 pm
Burning Bright, Not Out: Strategies to Increase Resiliency in the Addictions Workforce
Presenters: Jayna Bonfini (PhD, LPC, NCC, MAC) and Ashley Farabough
Helping professionals who support clients through issues daily are at high risk for professional burnout. This is especially true for rural providers working with clients who struggle with addiction. Session attendees will learn to identify signs of burnout and learn specific strategies to maintain wellness individually and within their organizations.  

September 23, 2020, 3 - 4 pm
The Culture of Addiction: Addressing Implicit Bias to Improve Treatment Outcomes

Presenter: Demond Bledsoe (MS, PhD, LPC)
This presentation will explore the impact of implicit bias, racial stereotypes and stigma associated with clients struggling with substance use disorders. Participants will learn strategies on self-assessment and acknowledgement of bias and stigmatizing beliefs as well as strategies for improving the quality of culturally responsive care.

October 2, 2020, 12 - 1 pm
Skills for Effective Encounters: The SBIRT Training Model
Presenters: Marcus Poindexter (MSW, LSW), Janet Bucey (OTD,OTR/L) and Gabrielle Strong (MBA)
Utilizing the evidenced-based SBIRT training model, presenters will engage participants in learning and practicing skills necessary to facilitate conversation about at-risk drug and alcohol use. The session includes a discussion aimed at introducing one university-based interprofessional SBIRT training model and suggesting strategies applicable to any nonphysician health professional’s setting.

October 7, 2020, 3 - 4 pm
Plans of Safe Care: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Support Well-Being of Substance Affected Infants and their Families
Presenters: Jane Zupanic (LSW), Dawn Houston (MS), Beth Phillips (MAAT), and Barb Daubner (MSW)
Prenatal substance exposure can cause a wide spectrum of physical, emotional and developmental problems for infants. Plans of Safe Care, developed by a multidisciplinary team, are designed to address both the needs of the substance-affected infant and the parents/caregivers to ensure the overall health, development, and well-being of both.

October 16, 2020, 12 - 1 pm
“Examining More Than Throat Cultures”…Transforming Collegiate Culture with SBIRT
Presenters: Donna George (MSEd), Alec Howard (MPH), and Colleen Moyer
PASSHE, PennWest California’s Wellness Center, and Pitt PERU took a transformational journey which is having an impact on individual student choice and the entire state’s collegiate culture. This session will give participants a look at this courageous pilot funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).    

October 21, 2020, 3 - 4 pm
The Impact of Addiction within the Family System: The Intersection of Familial, LGBTQ, and Rural Issues
Presenter: Michelle Colarusso (PhD, LPC, NCC) & Nickolas Summa (PhD, LMFT)
This session will explore common issues that arise within the family system when addiction is present. The session will highlight unique issues that occur when the addicted individual identifies as LGBTQ, and also identify the challenges that families and families of LGBTQ individuals in rural communities face seeking help with addiction.

October 30, 2020, 12 - 1 pm
A Comprehensive Approach to the Opioid Crisis in our Region
Presenters: Cheryld Emala (MSW, LCSW) and Kellie McKevitt (MSW, LSW)
This session will provide participants with an overview of how a local non-profit human service organization (SPHS), designed, obtained funding, and deployed services in our local communities to address the opioid epidemic. The session will primarily highlight the organization’s Centers of Excellence project, with an overview of organization’s overall effort to address addiction issues locally.

November 4, 2020, 3 - 4 pm
Stigma and Access to Healthcare
Presenters: Ashley Potts (MSW) and Caesar DeLeo (MD)
The opioid crisis is devastating our communities and straining the healthcare system. Learn how Highmark has taken innovative approaches to addressing stigma and through technology has brought substance use care to underserved rural communities in Appalachia.  

November 13, 2020, 12 - 1 pm
The Theoretical Underpinning of Addiction Prevention (no recording available)
Presenter: Waganesh Zeleke (EdD, LCPC, NCC)
Understanding the theory and principle of prevention is a critical first step for those learning about prevention. Informed by the web of influence model, this presentation aims to provide audience information about the theoretical underpinning of addiction prevention and its application.

November 18, 2020, 3 - 4 pm
Are There Substance Free Safe Spaces? Supporting LGBTQ+ Clients in Recovery
Presenters: David Loeffler (MA, MS, NCC) and Joe Charette (MSEd, NCC)
This session will discuss conceptualizing substance use among LGBTQ+ people through an intersectional lens. Examining substance use through this lens will illuminate particular challenges this community faces in recovery including social engagement and positive relationship formation. Attendees will discuss resources that can compliment substance use treatment for LGBTQ+ clients.