Recovery Schools Combine Education with Drug, Alcohol Treatment

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

A report from Recovery.org has detailed recovery high schools, which offer a safe place for students suffering from drug or alcohol addiction to attend school without facing peer pressure to continue to participate in these behaviors. Recovery high schools include a curriculum that is combined with treatment and support options for students.

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 27.2% of students across the United States between grades eight and twelve have tried drugs in the last year.  The report, “Sober High: The State of Recovery High Schools in America,” states that this scenario creates a “dangerous environment” for students who are using drugs as well as for their classmates.

A 2013 estimate from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 2.3 million kids between the ages of 12 and 17 have used drugs.  Just 5.4% of these children have received help from a treatment program.

The report discusses three treatment programs available for high school-age youth, including treatment center schools, therapeutic boarding schools, and recovery high schools.  While traditional options such as treatment center schools and boarding schools help students, the report states that these schools may not be the best option.

Treatment center schools focus on substance abuse while also providing educational instruction, and boarding schools offer an educational program combined with specialized structure and support.

Meanwhile, recovery high schools try to reduce the impact of treatment by allowing students to continue to live in their own homes.  These schools are typically associated with other schools rather than treatment centers and are available to all students who need them.  The one requirement for enrollment is that students are serious about their desire to end their drug use.

In terms of success rates, recovery high schools have been found to have a 30% relapse rate, while those who go through normal intervention methods hold a 70% relapse rate.  Despite the effectiveness, there is still a low amount of awareness surrounding these schools, with only 34 such schools in existence to date.  Two-time Emmy Award–winning actress and author as well as Executive Director & Co-Founder of SLAM Kristen Johnston noted her concern about this, stating: “The fact that I’m still screaming into a wind tunnel about this issue is shocking to me.”

The Ostiguy Recovery High School in Boston is highlighted as a positive, effect model.  Of the 81 students enrolled, the majority, 42 students, either graduated or moved up a grade, with an additional 11 students advancing to the next level and returning to their home schools.

The report states that these results are due to the curriculum, which combines traditional classes with electives that focus on personal growth and development in an effort to prepare students for life after school.

However, despite these results, recovery schools often end up closing for a number of reasons, including transportation, stigma, awareness, and funding.

The report concludes by offering help to those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.  They suggest visiting Recovery.org or calling 1-888-319-2606 for additional information.