One of the first signs that your child has a substance use problem is falling grades and trouble at school. As their condition continues to worsen, they might drop out or even get kicked out of school. Removing the daily structure of school and the hope for the future can make addiction worse and leave parents feeling out of control with nowhere to turn.

Jackson Crowe, an eighteen-year-old from New Jersey, was on this path. Crowe was kicked out of two schools after struggling with addiction to drugs. Where his story takes a turn from the common trajectory is that he successfully graduated from high school after enrolling in a third high school.

How did he accomplish this? He had some help.

The third high school Crowe attended is a new type of school tailored to educate and foster students who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Recognizing the need to address teen addiction and support addiction recovery in an educational setting, the K.E.Y.S. Academy is making a difference. Fortunately, for many families, this school is not the only one of its kind.

Recovery High Schools Help Teens in Recovery

A recovery high school is a type of secondary school created to educate and serve youth in recovery from drugs or alcohol. While recovery schools have been around as early as 1987, they are becoming more common today.

The staff at recovery high schools are, in many ways, similar to those working at traditional high schools. However, in addition to content experts, there are also additional mental health professionals and substance abuse counselors on staff who are trained to help teens dealing with addiction.

There is no single model for recovery high schools; each is different in how many students attend, financial and governance structures and organizational and physical arrangements. Some recovery schools, like the K.E.Y.S. Academy, are completely separate schools that only educates students in recovery. Other recovery high schools are embedded within traditional public high schools.

Regardless of whether or not a recovery school is a stand-alone school, the administration makes an effort to separate students in recovery from their peers who use and could interfere with their sobriety. These schools also require students to be committed to being sober, and many require students to have already completed a 30-day treatment program before beginning enrolling.

Finding Long Term Sobriety

In addition to helping students succeed academically, recovery high schools or sober schools support teens who struggle with addiction to maintain long-term sobriety. Teens who attend a recovery high school only have a relapse rate of 30%. This rate is much lower compared to the relapse rate of 70% for teens who seek treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol and return to traditional high schools.

The rates of success have big implications for the millions of teens who have a substance use disorder in the United States. Fortunately, more recovery schools are being established to meet this need. There are over 34 recovery high schools and the number is growing. Over time, Jackson’s story of success will hopefully be a common one of success in recovery.

Intervening early in a teen’s struggle with addiction is important. Before they can enroll in a recovery high school, it is necessary for them to receive treatment and get sober. If you would like to learn more about treatment options in your area, reach out to The Recovery Village to learn more. 

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