Drug and alcohol abuse is a very real reality among teenagers today. It affects teens from all walks of life, showing no exceptions for race, demographics, or finances. Most statistics today indicate anywhere from 60 – 75% of teenagers have tried drugs or alcohol at some point; many of them end up in rehab.
And these teenagers, like many others who suffer with addiction, must figure out how to return to life outside of rehab, often stepping immediately back into the school environment that led to their addiction in the first place, frequently being offered their drug of choice on the first day they return to the school.
In an effort to offer these teenagers a solid chance of sobriety and relapse prevention, an innovative kind of school has opened across America. These schools, known as Recovery Schools, or Sober Schools, present teenagers a wonderful opportunity to continue their secondary educations in a safe and secure environment. While they do not function as treatment centers, they do offer group and individual counseling sessions where the students can talk about any concerns, problems, or stresses they may be dealing with.
There is no single one-size-fits-all approach to Recovery Schools though. Most have their roots grounded in twelve step programs, are located near other local high schools, and include required daily group sessions. Beyond that though, there remain very few commonalities. Each Recovery School employs its own type of counseling and therapeutic foundations and orientations. They also have their own requirements for student admission and curriculum delivery.
Recovery schools offer some very clear and obvious advantages for teenagers who are working on their personal recoveries. Each school provides safe and supportive surroundings for groups of teens who are struggling with similar issues. They have absolute zero-tolerance for any type of drugs or alcohol and clearly defined consequences for any type of relapse. Teenagers in these schools have the ability to make new friendships with others who can honestly empathize with their life and problems. Academically, these schools offer students with the hope of finishing secondary school when they might otherwise have dropped out.
These schools are not limited to simply high schools though. Reportedly, there are at least twenty college level schools across the country. While these collegiate level schools offer many of the same advantages as their secondary counterparts, they also focus on safety and security in a more independent setting.
Whether discussing high school or college levels, Recovery Schools show enormous success rates for teenagers who are moving from addiction to a sober, healthy future. Although there are not large amounts of data, due to the relatively small numbers of schools, independent student surveys indicate a decrease of almost 82 percent when comparing the weekly general drug use of students out of rehab in public schools versus those in Recovery schools. Similar results came to light when looking at the usage of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.
For any addict moving through the recovery process, the importance of a change in lifestyle is a strong necessity to a successful future. Adults can often accomplish this through changing jobs, house locations, even friends. But teenagers do not always have that opportunity. The law requires them to attend school of some kind and most of their parents may not have the ability or opportunity to move to new areas. This leaves them in the extremely tenable position of returning to the place where many of their initial large amounts of peer pressure likely originated. Recovery schools become the wonderful alternative to returning to that environment.