Family's role in life after inpatient treatment one of the focuses of UNT Recovery Conference

Monday, August 22, 2016 - 16:00

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Even after a teenager or adult enters a center for substance misuse, his or her immediate family members may not understand how to relate to him or her. The family may walk on eggshells in talking with their loved one, be afraid of what may happen when he or she leaves treatment or feel uncertain of the person's new role in the family after becoming sober.

At the fourth University of North Texas Recovery Conference Sept. 21-22 (Wednesday-Thursday), Bill Maher, one of the founders of the Family Centered Approach to Intervention and Systemic After Care Coaching program, will discuss skills that family members can use to assist their loved one in starting a lifetime of recovery.

More than 250 behavioral health professionals, educators, researchers and industry leaders are expected to attend the annual conference, which will take place at UNT's University Union, 1155 Union Circle in Denton. Members of the media are welcome to attend at no cost. View the Recovery Conference agenda online.

The conference is being sponsored by UNT's Office of Substance Misuse and Mental Health Recovery Research, which was established last spring to provide research, courses and workshops for recovery treatment professionals, and Life of Purpose Treatment, an outpatient facility that is specifically designed for young adults whose college education was disrupted by substance misuse. Life of Purpose opened its second location, Denton Life of Purpose, on the UNT campus earlier this year.

Life of Purpose chose UNT because of the university's commitment to supporting current and prospective students. Since 2013, the Collegiate Recovery Program in UNT's Department of Disability and Addiction Rehabilitation has offered weekly wellness meetings, a physical space for students to connect with others in recovery, a designated wing in a UNT residence hall for students in recovery, and Eagle Peer Recovery, a student organization offering alcohol-free parties, tailgating and other activities. Staff members with Collegiate Recovery work with Denton Life of Purpose staff to serve students who are enrolled at UNT and need outpatient treatment, usually after leaving UNT to complete an inpatient treatment program.

The Recovery Conference, held during National Recovery Month, offers speakers discussing all areas of recovery, including substance misuse, eating disorders and other disorders impacting mental health.

"Recovery is more than just abstinence," said Linda Holloway, director of Office of Substance Misuse and Mental Health Recovery Research and chair of the Department of Disability and Addiction Rehabilitation. "It's about quality of life and other factors that may prevent relapse as you create a life outside of a treatment center. We're trying to show that recovery is a lifestyle, and we're looking specifically at recovery of college students because there's so little research on this group."

Bill Maher, an interventionist with the Family Intervention Center of Virginia in Richmond, will speak at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 (Wednesday). He is nationally recognized in the field of intervention for substance use and eating and process disorders. He has facilitated more than 3,000 interventions across the nation and has a very high success rate of placing individuals experiencing substance related issues into treatment. Maher has appeared on "Good Morning America" and was quoted in The Wall Street Journal. 

Other keynote speakers are:

  • Dr. Kevin McCauley, a physician and former Naval flight surgeon who treated many pilots with alcohol and drug problems, and strongly advocates for the rights of patients with substance use disorders. He is the speaker for the Recovery Conference's luncheon at 12:15 p.m. Sept. 22 (Thursday)
  • Jenni Schaefer of Austin, who will speak at 3 p.m. Sept. 21 (Wednesday). Schaefer is the author of three books about her own struggle with eating disorders. A singer and songwriter, she is a recovery advocate for Eating Recovery Center, an inpatient treatment center with locations in seven states, and chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association.

For more information, contact the conference organizers at 940-565-2488 or

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108