How Recovery High Schools Are Helping Teens Stay Clean

by AdamS on July 10, 2012

As everyone knows, adolescence can be a very difficult and confusing time in a person’s life. This is why many young people fall into the trap of drug and alcohol addiction and need help with drug detoxification. It can be extremely tough for a young person to recognize, let alone, overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol or go through ecstasy detox. Thankfully, a new trend has emerged that is aimed at helping these young people who are struggling with the burdens of adolescence and addiction. New high schools are being opened that are targeting these young people so that they can come and learn in a nurturing environment that helps them with their studies, as well as their problems with drugs and alcohol.


The very first of these schools, appropriately called “Sobriety High”, started in 1987 in Minnesota. Now, there are about 35 of these kinds of institutions that are aimed to help teens deal with their issues, while at the same time providing them with a quality education that they would have received in normal high schools. There are over two million students in this country that qualify for these institutions, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. If those teens who are addicted to drugs and alcohol enter into a normal treatment center, outside of school, and then return to high school once they are done, 75% of them are going to relapse, according to a new study. Andrew Finch, a professor at Vanderbilt University and who has been studying teen addiction for years says, “Many of these teens are offered their previous drug of choice on their first day back in school. It’s going to be much harder to stay with that decision to stop, if all of your buddies are continuing to use.”

New Methods

One of the newer sober schools, located in Massachusetts, is Northshore Recovery High. Its principle, Michelle Lipinski, founded the school in 2005 after she grew weary of attending funerals for students who had overdosed on drugs. “I didn’t want to go to any more funerals. These students have a really important story to tell, it’s not just about addiction,” she says. Northshore is publically funded by the state, and relies less on traditional, regimented curriculum than typical high schools. Instead, there is a larger emphasis on self-expression and the arts. “Recovery doesn’t have to be painful. It can also be fun and exciting and rewarding. There’s no such thing as enabling at the school. We don’t give up on these kids, and they don’t give up on each other.”
These types of educational institutions are the ideal way for teenagers who are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol to get help, while still continuing with their academic education. More and more states are exploring how they could implement these schools into their districts so that they too can see the number of teens who overdose or need ecstasy detox go down. If you or someone you know is a teenager who is having difficulties in school because of drugs or alcohol, consider seeing if your state has any sober high schools. They are a fantastic resource for young people who want to get help getting clean without going through drug detoxification while still being in a school environment.

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