Teens who are recovering from addiction need an alternative to the traditional high school experience, and a solution may be gaining popularity: recovery schools. Even though high schools strive to be drug-free, they usually are not. Students have a hard time making new friends when their old friends are sitting next to them in class every day. Addiction recovery requires removing yourself from environments that make it easy to use. A group of sober and like-minded peers is essential. One recovering 15-year-old, Paige Petri, had this to say about making sober friends: “That’s a really important part of sobriety for me.”
Recovery Schools Helping Many Recovering from Alcohol Abuse and Drug Abuse
Paige Petri is one of many recovering teen addicts who are finding the environment they need in recovery schools, such as Horizon High School in Madison, Wisconsin, and PEASE Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are currently around 36 recovery high schools in the United States. Recovery schools not only offer high school curriculum to these teens, but also traditional recovery classes, drug testing, and addiction support groups. Being in an environment with other students who are committed to recovery is a huge factor in success.
Lately, there has been an increase in opioid usage in the United States as well as an increased awareness about the struggle and the disease of addiction. In light of this, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington are planning to open seven additional recovery schools. Recovery schools have been around since 1979 but they have not experienced any substantial growth in the amount of facilities available to recovering teens. A total of 77 recovery schools have been open, but more than half have closed their doors for good. This could be due to funding.
Lack of Funding for Recovery Schools Leads to Closures: Silver Lining Looms
Association of Recovery Schools board member and Vanderbilt University Professor, Andrew Finch explained that “The schools are funded in so many different ways that there’s uncertainty from year to year” if the schools will continue to be funded. Some recovery schools still rely completely on private tuition. Due to lack of funding from health insurance, many recovery schools are partnering with nonprofit organizations and county human services programs. Minnesota and Massachusetts have attained some grant funding. Even with grant funding stopping the bleed, it is not a cause to stop worrying about funding. PEASE Academy director Michael Durschlag and Minnesota Representative Linda Slocum have both expressed that grant funding could dry up if individuals who are less invested in this are elected to governor or legislature positions. Dependable future funding for recovery schools will require an understanding of the need for them.
In a traditional high school setting, students are forced to be around peers who use and sell drugs. A recovering addict has little hope of breaking out of those old patterns without the environment that recovery schools can provide.