The first recovery high school in the U.S. opened in Minnesota in 1987, and was designed specifically for students in recovery from substance use and co-occurring disorders. Today there are 42 schools across 20 different states with several more anticipated to open within the year. Each program varies to meet the needs of the community, but all recovery schools prioritize giving students a quality secondary education combined with behavioral health support services. Schools also provide support for families learning how to live with and uplift their teens beginning their recovery journey. As a result, recovery high schools boast increased rates of graduation and sobriety, and decreased rates of absence and substance use.
Every day, students’ lives are made better through the holistic work of the dedicated staff at recovery high schools across the country. Here in Seattle, Seth Welch has been working as a Substance Use Disorder Professional for more than 10 years. He is an Advisory Board member of the King County Recovery Coalition and is currently the Substance Use Disorder Professional and Recovery Specialist at the Queen Anne – Interagency Recovery High School Campus.
Here is what Seth has to say about recovery schools:
“The Recovery School program has had more of an impact than anything I’ve ever seen in terms of providing teenagers a realistic opportunity to maintain sobriety & recovery from drugs and alcohol. It works because they become part of a sober, young person community. They make sober friends, they get sober mentors, they experience success as they never have before, and become mentors themselves. The phenomenal result is that they actually become proud to be sober and they make sobriety cool and attractive to other young people. This is miraculous to watch, and I would spend my entire life if only to help maintain these opportunities for generations to come.
Inter-Agency Queen Anne Recovery High School in Seattle along with recovery schools across the country, collectively serve thousands of teenagers each year. Teenagers who experience the willingness and eventually the commitment to interrupt the cycle of addiction in their own lives, their families and their community. They find purpose in helping other kids that were once in their shoes. More schools like this are emerging as the harsh reality sets in of just how few truly sustainable options are available for young people to not only get sober but stay sober.
Time and again we have seen the devastating and often fatal impact of sending kids to treatment in whatever capacity, only to see them return not only to relapse, but continue to use and develop behaviors upon returning to the same environment and peer group that enabled the addiction in the first place. Recovery schools provide them with an opportunity to receive education in a structured sober environment, specifically designed to help them maintain sobriety.
It is not only imperative that every district provide at least one recovery high school, it’s an injustice to children and families not to.”
Join us on November 19th at 1pm Pacific for a discussion with Seth, recovery school students and family members and those working in this field, about how recovery high schools are making a difference for families right here in King County. How can our community continue to support these efforts? Is there a need for expansion of the Inter-Agency Queen Anne Recovery High School? For more information, visit the Association of Recovery Schools website and read this article on recovery schools.
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