Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’

8 Jul

Teen substance abuse is at epidemic levels.

What is Substance Abuse?

HELPGUIDE.ORG defines substance abuse and also describes some of the traits of a substance abuser.  Although, the focus of this article is children and teens who abuse various substances, there is a widespread problem with their parents and caretakers. A recent report found that many children live with parents who are substance abusers Often children who evidence signs of a substance abuse problem come from homes where there is a substance abuse problem. That problem may be generational.

eMedicineHealth lists some of the causes of substance abuse:

Substance Abuse Causes

Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood to abuse substances.

· Factors within a family that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to increased risk of drug abuse.

o Chaotic home environment

o Ineffective parenting

o Lack of nurturing and parental attachment

· Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse.

o Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom

o Poor social coping skills

o Poor school performance

o Association with a deviant peer group

o Perception of approval of drug use behavior

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs?

How Can You Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse?

Parents provides general signs of substance abuse and also gives specific signs of alcohol abuse, and several different drugs, narcotics, and inhalants. The general warning signs are:

· Changes in friends

· Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades

· Increased secrecy about possessions or activities

· Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors

· Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language

· Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use

· Increase in borrowing money

· Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.

· Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories

· Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils

· New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol

· Missing prescription drugs—especially narcotics and mood stabilizers

Remember, these are very general signs, specific drugs, narcotics, and other substances may have different signs, it is important to read the specific signs. One way of helping children recover and continue with their lives is a “Recovery High School.”

Huffington Post is reporting in the article, ‘Recovery High’ Schools Help Students Battling Addiction (VIDEO):

At Northshore Recovery High School in Beverly, Massachusetts, teachers are not only focused on helping their students pass their classes and graduate — faculty members also play an active role in helping the student body overcome addiction. There are an increasing number of “recovery high schools” like this one opening across the country, where students are finding a safe haven with peers who are similarly committed to recovery from drug and alcohol addictions.

“There was a 50/50 chance of me either dying or getting better,” former Northshore student Alyssa Dedrick told NBC. “I think going to a recovery school really increased my odds, not only of recovery, but of survival in general.”                                                 

All Treatment. Com provides a really good explanation of “Recovery High Schools.”

All Treatment interviewed Helene Cross, President and CEO of Fairbanks (in association with LaVerna Lodge) and Rachelle Gardner, Director of Adolescent Services at Fairbanks and COO for Hope Academy :

AT: What is a recovery high school?

Rachelle Gardner: It’s a school that provides a safe and sober environment, where young people can achieve academic success and also success in maintaining sobriety and support. It’s an environment that fosters relationships and long-term sobriety, giving young people the support in order to do that, and being able to achieve academic success, which in a normal traditional school, they haven’t been able to achieve. This gives young people hope and a chance to go on to secondary education, whether that is a community college or a large university.

This gives young people hope and a chance to go on to secondary education

AT: Who makes a good candidate for recovery high school?

RG: A young person who is willing to address their addiction issues, willing to receive support around staying sober and who want to achieve academic success. The two key points are that they want to be sober and they are interested in their education. If those two answers are ‘yes’ then a support system can be built around them in any type of recovery school.

Helene Cross: We should highlight the distinction between a recovery school and a treatment school. In recovery school, a young person has gone through treatment first and they have those tools that you learn in treatment, so there’s a common language and an opportunity to interact with peers in that culture using those tools.

RG: Most of the students are also receiving some sort of therapeutic support outside of the school. So they’re in an intensive outpatient program, family counseling, they’re seeing a private therapist, or they’re in some sort of halfway house. Since they’re treatment issues are dealt with outside of the school, the school is there to wrap their arms around them and support them in their recovery efforts.

AT: What should students and parents know before attending recovery high school?

HC: It’s a small school. One of the things parents want to know is how it is different than a normal school. We need to emphasize the difference in the way we teach and the fact that we understand recovery and provide this supportive environment, but there are some things they will sacrifice. A small school doesn’t have a football team, and a small charter school with a limit budget doesn’t have money for electives. We have talented teachers who can teach art and creative writing and music and we can play sports outside, but we don’t have organized sports the same way a normal school would. So they need to balance the sacrifices against the important goal – if we support the recovery and academic success, then this young person who is very vulnerable in terms of being able to graduate, will graduate. Sometimes it’s harder for the parent to give up their aspirations of their daughter being the homecoming queen or their son being a football star, but that’s a decision they have to make.                        

In Underage drinking costs society big-time, moi said:                                    Assuming you are not one of those ill-advised parents who supply their child with alcohol or drugs like marijuana in an attempt to be hip or cool, suspicions that your child may have a substance abuse problem are a concern. Confirmation that your child has a substance abuse problem can be heartbreaking. Even children whose parents have seemingly done everything right can become involved with drugs. The best defense is knowledge about your child, your child’s friends, and your child’s activities. You need to be aware of what is influencing your child                            


Association of Recovery Schools                                                             

Recovery High Schools: Giving Students a Second Chance                                


Seattle Children’s Institute study: Supportive middle school teachers affect a kid’s alcohol use                                                                                                  

The rich are different: Mercer Island underage drinking                                  

Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children                       

New study about substance abuse and kids                                   

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

2 Responses to “Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’”


  1. Homepage - July 22, 2012

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  2. More children now on antipsychotics drugs « drwilda - August 10, 2012

    […] Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’                                                 […]

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