High Schools For Addiction Recovery

In 2022, one in five 10th graders and almost a third of 12th graders reported using an illicit drug. This type of adolescent drug use increases the risk of addiction.

Some high schoolers avoid addiction treatment because they don’t want to disrupt their education or daily lives. That’s why many states have opened high schools for addiction recovery, also known as recovery high schools.

What Are Addiction Recovery High Schools?

Addiction recovery high schools are schools designed for students recovering from addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions (such as depression or PTSD). These schools aim to educate students while helping them build healthy, drug-free lives.

Along with teachers and administrators, the staff also includes substance use counselors and other mental health professionals.

To be considered for enrollment, students must express a strong desire to get sober. If a student relapses, they will not be expelled from the school. However, they must want to become sober again, and they must attend an addiction treatment program.

What Services Do Addiction Recovery High Schools Offer?

Like traditional high schools, addiction recovery schools offer classes in English, math, and other subjects necessary for a high school diploma.

However, most of them don’t offer advanced placement classes. That’s because they tend to have smaller class sizes and fewer staff members than traditional schools. The small class sizes allow staff to give each student the care they deserve.

Individual & Group Counseling

Alongside traditional classes, recovery schools also provide a variety of recovery-focused services. For example, all students receive individual counseling. Many schools also offer group counseling sessions. Both types of counseling can help students:

  • explore difficult thoughts and feelings
  • develop healthy coping skills to manage drug cravings
  • manage co-occurring mental health conditions that may have contributed to their substance misuse

Wellness Electives

In addition, students can take wellness electives that teach healthy activities such as journaling, exercising, and arts and crafts. These activities can help students maintain their recovery long after they graduate high school.

Daily Recovery Meetings

Some recovery schools also hold daily recovery meetings. Each morning, students meet in a designated area to discuss a recovery-related topic. The discussions allow students to share their experiences, feel less alone, and learn valuable coping tips from their peers and mentors.

Educational Resources For Families

Finally, most recovery schools provide educational resources for the students’ families. These resources help parents and other loved ones support the student’s recovery journey. With a supportive home environment, students have a much higher chance of long-term sobriety.

Are Addiction Recovery High Schools Effective?

Research suggests that recovery schools help teens stay sober.

According to a 2014 study, about 70% of teens relapse within six months of completing an addiction treatment program while attending a traditional high school. In contrast, only 30% of teens relapse within six months of completing addiction recovery school.

In addition, a 2019 study showed that recovery school students had better school attendance and higher sobriety rates compared to traditional high school students who completed addiction treatment. Also, their graduation rate was at least 21% higher.

A Safe Place To Get Sober

Recovery schools are effective not only because they provide recovery-focused services but also because they give students a safe place to get sober.

At traditional schools, students are much more likely to encounter drug use. For many people with addiction, even seeing or smelling drugs can be enough to trigger a relapse. Without theses triggers, students can stay focused on recovery.

How Many Addiction Recovery High Schools Exist?

In 1979, the nation’s first recovery high school opened in Silver Spring, Maryland. Since then, 42 recovery schools have opened across 20 states. According to the Association of Recovery Schools, these states include:

  • Colorado (1 school)
  • Florida (3 schools)
  • Indiana (1 school)
  • Massachusetts (5 schools)
  • Maryland (1 school)
  • Minnesota (6 schools)
  • North Carolina (2 schools)
  • New Jersey (3 schools)
  • Nevada (1 school)
  • New York (1 school)
  • Ohio (1 school)
  • Oklahoma (1 school)
  • Oregon (1 school)
  • Pennsylvania (2 schools)
  • Rhode Island (1 school)
  • Texas (8 schools)
  • Virginia (1 school)
  • Washington (1 school)
  • Wisconsin (1 school)
  • Wyoming (1 school)

There may also be other schools not yet listed by the Association of Recovery Schools. To find a recovery school in your area, contact your local school district, juvenile justice system, or addiction treatment center.

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, please reach out to Spring Hill Recovery Center. Nestled in the peaceful woodlands, our substance abuse treatment programs offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one stay sober.

  1. Association of Recovery Schools — What is a Recovery High School https://recoveryschools.org/what-is-a-recovery-high-school/
  2. Association of Recovery Schools — Find a School https://recoveryschools.org/find-a-school/
  3. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics — Net Benefits of Recovery High Schools: Higher Cost but Increased Sobriety and Educational Attainment. https://read.qxmd.com/read/31811754/net-benefits-of-recovery-high-schools-higher-cost-but-increased-sobriety-and-educational-attainment
  4. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics — Net Benefits of Recovery High Schools: Higher Cost but Increased Sobriety and Increased Probability of High School Graduation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6901088/
  5. Monitoring the Future — Any Illicit Drug: Trends in Last 12 Months Prevalence of Use in 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade https://monitoringthefuture.org/data/Prevalence.html#drug=%22Any+Illicit+Drug%22
  6. NPR — Recovery high schools help kids heal from an addiction and build a future https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/04/04/1167856499/recovery-high-schools-help-kids-heal-from-an-addiction-and-build-a-future
  7. PSA Mag — Can Recovery High Schools Keep Kids Off Drugs? https://psmag.com/education/can-recovery-high-schools-keep-kids-drugs-82184

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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