How Recovery High Schools can Help Teens After Treatment
Substance abuse, drunk driving, and addiction are all problems regardless of what age a user is. However, the problems related to addiction can be especially dangerous for teenagers. A national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration studied alcohol and substance abuse patterns among all age groups. The study found that 1,239,000 American teens participated in binge drinking in a one-month period. In Ohio, 47,000 teens binge-drank alcohol in one month. Further, out of the 954,000 American teens who have substance use disorders, 36,000 of them live in Ohio. Additionally, 4,000 Ohioan teens have pain reliever disorders. In America, 101,000 teens have a pain reliever disorder.
Affected American Teens In Ohio
Further, of the 711,000 American teens who suffer from an illicit drug use disorder, 29,000 of them are in Ohio. Finally, 422,000 American teens have an alcohol use disorder and 15,000 of them are in Ohio. Clearly, drug and alcohol abuse among teens is a problem throughout the US, and Ohio is no exception. Although many Ohioan teens need treatment, they often don’t receive the treatment they need. According to the survey, 75,000 Ohioan teens needed addiction treatment, but they did not receive it. To put this in perspective, 1,987,000 American teens needed treatment, but they did not receive it. If teens don’t receive the treatment they need, the results can be deadly. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse for Teens, 4,633 American teens died of a drug overdose in 2018.
Recovery High School in Ohio
Thankfully, there are new solutions to the problem of substance abuse among teens. For example, there are high schools dedicated to helping teens stay on the path of recovery after treatment. Heartland High School in Columbus, OH, focuses on education for recovering teens. Because recovery is an ongoing process, Heartland provides time to focus on recovery during the day. Mindfulness lessons and recovery group therapy are embedded into their daily school schedules.
Additionally, Heartland provides a sense of community for students who would have a hard time relating to students at a public school who haven’t had the same life experiences. Heartland’s co-founder, Laurie Elsass, said, “They need to feel connected. Their disease really sort of makes them isolated, socially, and that’s very unhealthy.”
Another benefit of Heartland is that the school provides a space away from students’ old high schools. This means they have separated from their old using environments. Since teens often need to leave school to receive treatment, Heartland helps students fill gaps in their schooling so that they can graduate. Heartland focuses on individual learning for students. Finally, Student Engagement Coordinator Jennifer Belému recognizes the importance of recognizing the often circuitous route of recovery.
“We all understand that the journey is not perfect. There are boundaries and guidelines in place, and we work with the kids to get them back on track if that’s what they need to do,” Belému said. “There’s some grace involved in the process because there needs to be.” Heartland High School provides an excellent resource for recovering teens in Ohio, and advocates for the program recognize the need for more high schools like this one.
Why Recovery Schools are Effective
Since 1987, recovery high schools have provided care for teenagers in the US who are working through recovery. Throughout their history, recovery high schools have provided a safe place for students who need to continue their addiction recovery journeys. Currently, there are 38 operating recovery high schools across the US. Several studies have shown that these types of schools are effective in helping students become and stay sober.
Although each recovery high school is unique, one study found that many of the schools have three shared goals. First, one goal is to create an environment and programs that support and demand student abstinence. Second, the next goal is to help students work through their personal barriers that prevent them from full recovery or from completing schoolwork. Third, the final goal is to give students the knowledge and tools to support their ongoing recovery.
The schools’ perspectives on addiction affect the way they design and carry out the curriculum. For example, most schools have adopted a view of the substance use disorder in which they view addiction as a chronic disease. This means they don’t view addiction as a personal failing or something that can be overcome quickly. Further, several schools adopted step programs that reflect the ideologies of the Twelve Step program. This means that they incorporate spirituality and a more holistic view of recovery. Finally, schools often incorporate individual and group therapy throughout the day to support students’ recovery journey.
One way recovery schools support students’ recovery process is by holding regular drug screenings. Another way is to have a plan in place in the case of a student’s relapse. For example, some students required more attendance at Twelve Step meetings. Other schools required more individual therapies. Further, some schools required students to complete a relapse packet. In extreme circumstances, some schools discharge students in cases of dishonesty and several relapses. In those cases, the school often refers students to treatment centers.
One teacher at a recovery school, Phyllis Colletta, lives by the philosophy that “Mental health and sobriety come first.” Sometimes, students need to take a break from their studies to focus on their recovery. Many effective teachers feel that the students’ wellbeing needs to be the priority. Ultimately, the studies found that students at recovery schools were much more likely to abstain from drugs and alcohol than recovering teens who attend other schools.
Limitations of Recovery Schools
Although recovery schools provide immense help to the students they serve, there are some limitations to the current model of high schools. Most notably, these high schools often serve the highest socioeconomic demographic of students. One study found that most 78% of students at these high schools were white. Further, 50% of students came from two-parent homes. Additionally, the education level of parents suggested that they came from a higher socioeconomic status than most families do. Finally, 78% of students had received prior treatment before they enrolled in the recovery high school. One reason this would be the case is that many recovery high schools are private and require tuition for enrollment.
Although there are several options for making recovery schools more accessible, funding is one of them. One way recovery schools could become more accessible is by becoming charter schools. A charter school receives government funding, but it operates independently. In this way, it has the benefits of a public school and the flexibility of a private school. Starting charter schools focused on recovery would provide more students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds with the opportunity to attend recovery high schools.
A Recovery School Helps Many
Ultimately, a recovery school could be the answer for you or your child. Recovery experts have shown that aftercare is an incredibly important part of the recovery process. Aftercare can include counseling, support groups, and connection to sponsors. At a recovery school, students often have access to all of these resources and more. Therefore, recovery schools can help students remain sober once they leave a full-time treatment center. Along with providing sobriety resources, many schools also provide safeguards for what to do if a student relapses. Where parents may feel lost, alone, and unsure of what to do if their child relapses, schools can offer more connection to resources.
Finally, recovery schools provide a place of community for those recovering from addictions. At a different school, students who have been through treatment may have a hard time connecting with other students. At a recovery high school, students are surrounded by others who have had similar challenges and life experiences. On the other hand, another benefit to recovery schools is that they allow the students to be separated from their former using environments.
Call Us Today
If you are in the Ohio area and you think a recovery school is a right option for you, please give us a call today. Our recovery experts can help you go over your options for recovery school. Additionally, if you have any questions about addiction treatment or recovery in general, feel free to contact our recovery experts. You can contact us at 614-502-6247.