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Adolescent Substance Abuse: Recovery Schools Help Teens Stay Clean
by MONIQUE BOURGEOIS MPNA LADC
adolescent-substance-abuse_classroom-chairsThink about this: would an adult’s continuing care plan for recovery include returning to his or her favorite bar five days a week for six hours a day?  If so, what are the chances that this adult would remain abstinent? 
 
In essence, this is what is being asked of students in recovery when they return to their previous academic settings. For some students, their previous academic settings are their “bars.”
 
Yes, there are students who return to their former academic settings and are successful. However, the return-to-use rate is very high for adolescents and young adults. One solution to addressing this problem is a recovery school.
 
What is a recovery school? According to the Association of Recovery Schools, a recovery school is either at the high school or collegiate/university level and:
  • Provides academic services and assistance with recovery and continuing care
  • Does not generally operate as a treatment center or mental health agency
  • Requires that all students enrolled in the program be in recovery and working a program of recovery determined by the student and the school
  • Offers academic courses for which students receive credit towards a high school or college degree
  • Is prepared through policies and protocols to address the needs of students in crisis, therapeutic or other including licensed counselors and staff
Recovery schools have been around in some form since the late 1970's. The first collegiate recovery community was started at Brown University in 1977. The first recovery high schools started in 1987 in the Twin Cities: Ecole Novelle (now known as Sobriety High) and PEASE (Peers Enjoying A Sober Education). Today, there are approximately 15-18 collegiate recovery communities and 30-35 recovery high schools around the U.S.
 
Recovery schools provide students in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction an opportunity to receive their education in a safe, supportive environment with embedded recovery support.
 
The Association of Recovery Schools was founded to promote, strengthen, and expand recovery schools in secondary and post-secondary settings designed for students and families committed to achieving success in both education and recovery. Our 9th annual conference, "On the Trail to Freedom," will be held in Boston, MA July 21-23, 2010. Follow the link for more information related to the conference, recovery schools and joining the Association of Recovery Schools.
 

 
adolescent-substance-abuse_Monique-Bourgeois-photoMonique Bourgeois is the Executive Director of the Association of Recovery Schools, a national nonprofit dedicated to advocating for the promotion, strengthening and expansion of recovery schools across the nation. She has been involved with the Association of Recovery Schools since its inception in 2002. Ms. Bourgeois has a Master’s Degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration, a B.S. Degree in Applied Psychology and is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug counselor in the State of Minnesota. Her career has included work in a recovery high school, residential substance abuse treatment for adolescents and as a chemical health specialist in the public school setting. Ms. Bourgeois is a graduate of the Addiction Technology Transfer Center’s Leadership Institute and was published in the 2007 Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery.

 

Photo of chairs in classroom: James Sarmiento.