While teenagers have never been strangers to the experimentation of mind-altering substances, drug addiction and alcohol abuse has almost become synonymous with today’s youth. The seemingly innocent hippie days of marijuana smoking and the use of LSD for mind expansion are long gone. Today’s high school students are misusing much harder chemicals –including highly addictive prescription medications, meth amphetamines, heroin, ecstasy and cocaine. Even common household items like glue, spray paint and over-the-counter medications are on the modern menu for teens looking to get a buzz.

The Statistics

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as two million students in the United States meet the criteria for drug or alcohol abuse. The Center for Disease Control and prevention concurs with this finding and considers “alcohol and other drug use among our nation’s youth a major public health problem.” Furthermore, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that as many as 90 percent of all twelfth graders admit that illegal drugs are readily available to them.

Despite the staggering statistics, reports indicate that less than eight percent of all addicted students will get the help they so desperately need while in high school. The lucky few actually get treatment ultimately return to school and fall back into old behaviors. The relapse rate among students who receive substance abuse counseling is an astonishing 75 percent. This is attributed to peer pressure, a lack of faculty awareness and inadequate supportive services.

Now, for some good news. A viable solution to the teen drug epidemic is on the horizon. High schools designed solely around a sobriety-focused curriculum are popping up across the country. Recovery high schools, as they are called, are becoming more prevalent throughout the United States and have demonstrated a hopeful success rate.

Recovery High Schools

The first American recovery high school was founded in 1989 and is located in Burnsville, Minnesota. Appropriately named Sobriety High, the facility was originally established as a nonprofit alternative school, helping troubled teens with drug and alcohol issues. Converted to a charter school in 2003, Sobriety High Charter School is now a member of the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS) and is joined by 35 similar institutions scattered around the country.

The mission of ARS is “to advocate for the promotion, strengthening, and expansion of secondary and post-secondary programs designed for students and families committed to achieving success in both education and recovery.” ARS is designed to support schools that offer components of the recovery continuum of care, enrolling students committed to being abstinent from alcohol and other drugs and working a program of recovery.

Like typical high schools, recovery schools are accredited educational institutions. Students receive a well-rounded education that results in 4-year high school diploma. Perhaps one of the most phenomenal aspects of the highly specialized programs offered at recovery schools is that they are open to all students, free of charge. Recovery schools receive funding from the state level and through generous donations offered by foundations, corporations, and individuals.

As opposed to a typical high school, recovery schools center on sobriety. They offer the continued support teens need after treatment to remain abstinent from alcohol and drugs by providing a safe, chemical-free environment.

Parents often feel frustrated as their continued attempts to offer sobriety to their children is counteracted by the drug and alcohol culture found in most public high schools. If your child struggles with chemical dependency, it may be time to consider enrolling them in a recovery school. In order to achieve continued recovery, teens who abuse mind-altering substances need to keep company with sober peers and caring educators –especially in the early days of sobriety.

To learn more about recovery high schools and to find one near you, click here.

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