Are Recovery High Schools a Good Idea?

Young study groupAs officials, treatment professionals and communities as a whole continue to address the ever-changing landscape of substance abuse and addiction, new resources and services continue to appear for helping various populations in need. Identifying these various needs has led to one approach that focuses exclusively on teenagers.

One of the problems that addicted teens face is how to be able to get the help they need while also continuing on a learning curriculum for high school. Another problem has been reintegration into a regular school atmosphere following treatment. One solution to both of these problems has been the advent of recovery high schools. Some of these schools are fully private adolescent treatment facilities that incorporate learning, while others are partially funded with public dollars, such as one opening in New Jersey next year, and are more like regular schools that offer treatment.

The first recovery school reportedly opened in Minnesota back in 1987, and there are more than a couple dozen available around the country today. Most of the schools have very small enrollments each year. Personalized attention to the students is one key factor, though finding an ideal location can often be difficult.

According to the Association of Recovery Schools, of which many of these types of programs are a member, their mission 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 exists to support such schools which, as components of the recovery continuum of care, enroll students committed to being abstinent from alcohol and other drugs and working a program of recovery.

Some people have mixed emotions about these special schools, such as feeling that they can actually set up students to fail by not focusing more on reintegration. Since they are largely still new concepts and there are so many differences between each program, it is difficult to develop a real measurement of outcomes.

For now, most people believe that offering as many ways to help people as possible is a good thing, especially when it comes to the future of our society – our children.

Mike Loverde

With firsthand experience with addiction, Mike Loverde is now a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), as accredited by the Association of Intervention Specialists and the Pennsylvania Certification Board. He founded Family First Intervention in 2008 and has since helped hundreds of families find intervention and addiction rehabilitation solutions.

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