University of North Texas Establishes Office of Substance Misuse and Mental Health Recovery Research

Denton, TX (March 30, 2016) – The University of North Texas’ Department of Disability and Addictions Rehabilitation announces it will establish the Office of Substance Misuse and Mental Health Recovery Research in its Denton, Texas campus.

The establishment of this Office is being funded by a $100,000 commitment from Andrew Burki, MSW, Founder and CEO of Life of Purpose Treatment. This gift serves as a springboard to raise additional gifts to enhance the program.

“I am thrilled about the research opportunities that this generous gift from Life of Purpose will afford UNT,” said Chair of the Department of Disability and Addictions Rehabilitation and Director of the Office of Substance Misuse and Mental Health Recovery Research at the University of North Texas, Linda Holloway. “This donation is significant in that it is providing the seed money to create the UNT Office for Substance Misuse and Mental Health Recovery Research. There is an epidemic of substance use disorders in the US and it is complicated by other co-occurring behavioral health disorders. It is affecting youth at an earlier age thereby having even more dire consequences – including death. It is simply inexcusable that we have inadequate research to address this compounding health issue in a country that has so many resources. This Office will provide a hub for faculty and staff to conduct cutting edge research related to recovery, an area that is surprisingly lacking in evidence-based practices. We have invited over a dozen faculty members from 3 different colleges to be a part of this research initiative and hope that more will join us. It is only through a concerted, collaborative effort that we can begin to tackle this crisis.”

UNT’s Office of Substance Misuse and Mental Health Recovery Research will take an integrated approach to addressing substance misuse by combining services in the areas of education and training, research and evaluation, technical assistance and technology development. The Office will serve as an important hub of Texas’ research on alcohol and drug misuse prevention and recovery, and will foster internationally recognized research to better understand the impact of substance use and recovery locally as well as globally.

"When we look at the current public health crisis surrounding substance use disorder in America it has become all too easy to feel hopeless and perceive the problem as insurmountable,” said Founder and CEO of Life of Purpose Treatment, Andrew Burki, MSW. “We are flooded with news stories of the 120 plus individuals who die daily as a result of this disorder. We find our communities being slowly crushed under the sheer weight of the $600 billion in economic impact we face annually as a result of the substance use disorder problem in America. This gift to the University of North Texas is a call to action and I earnestly urge you to join us. Funding research in this area is not only the morally correct course of action it is, quite simply, the only economically viable solution to what we are facing. We cannot continue to fail to equip our legislators, service workers, clinicians, doctors, nurses, first responders and other front line personnel with the necessary tools to combat this problem. We can and must take action to win the war on addiction in America. The sustained cost in our nation's lives and treasure is simply too great for loss to be an acceptable option."

The Office plans to provide courses and workshops and allied disciplinary practitioners in addictions. As its work progresses, the program will offer visits by internationally renowned scholars and practitioners in the field to promote collaborative research efforts, teaching and knowledge mobilization.

As Michael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House, recently stated during a 60 Minutes interview we've learned addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing. “This is not about bad people who are choosing to continue to use drugs because they lack willpower. You know, we don't expect people with cancer just to stop having cancer,” said Mr. Botticelli.

A CASA study found that 1.8 million full-time college students, 22.9 percent, meet the medical criteria for substance use and dependence. Now it’s the time to take action by joining the fight against substance use disorder and funding recovery research.

About the UNT and DDAR:

Ranked a Tier One research university by the Carnegie Classification, UNT is one of the nation’s largest public research universities with 37,000 students. The Department of Disability & Addiction Rehabilitation (DDAR) offers a Minor and a Certificate in Substance Use Treatment, a B.S. in Rehabilitation Studies, and a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling – both degrees are available on campus and fully online. UNT was among the first 4-year universities in Texas to offer a minor in addiction. It is the home of the UNT Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP), the first CRP in the nation to serve students with both substance use and mental health disorders. The CRP offers on campus housing dedicated to students in the recovery – the Recovery Nest. DDAR is also the designated Recovery to Practice provider for addiction professionals in Texas. 

About Life of Purpose:

Life of Purpose is the only inpatient academically focused substance use disorder treatment facility located on college campuses across the United States. Its mission is to foster success in recovery and purpose in life through truly specialized academically focused substance use disorder treatment.