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Back in session: School for the young recovered addict

Published On: 09-24-2015 in Category: addiction


Addiction ruins a life and leaves it in pieces. The individual can go through rehab and recovery, but that is easier said than done. Re-entering society might not be smooth and people of all ages have the choice to return to school after recovery. Yet, for the young adult or teenager struggling with substance abuse, returning to a public high school can only pressure the student to fall back into the harmful habits.

There is a school in Boston, where students complete an education while also receiving recovery support. Instead of returning to an environment that promotes the use of harmful and illicit substances, students can enter into a supportive and healthy environment.

Continuing where one left off

William J. Ostiguy High School has a formidable mission statement, “To support both a student’s recovery as well as their academic attainment.” The model for this form of school has spread to eight states and 24 schools so far across the country. According to the website, Ostiguyhigh.org, the school has, “A licensed substance abuse counselor on staff,” who “meets regularly with the students to monitor and provide counseling on their recovery plan and any other addiction related issues.” By having a counselor meeting with students on a regular basis, students are able to learn in a supporting environment and be vocal about internal issues.

There are also student group meetings to cover the subject of recovery and the 12 steps. Through this program, students are able to continue school where they had left off before the substance abuse destroyed their life. This program may not work for each individual, but can be an excellent place for the student in need of support. A common worry students and families may have is the consequences of a relapse. However, a student who has a relapse will not be sent out of the school following said relapse. “In the majority of the cases where students self-report a relapse, they are able to access additional treatment and remain part of the school community.”

These students may have made a past mistake through substance abuse, but are not treated as delinquents. As anyone is susceptible to substance abuse – addiction is no respecter of person. The National Institute of Drug Abuse website, drugabuse.gov, offers insight into how a teenager has more access to harmful substance and drugs in school. “When they enter high school, adolescents face additional social, emotional, and educational challenges.” These challenges will fuel the stress a student feels, leading to a greater risk of substance abuse. This school is a archetypal example of how society can begin to help build support for individuals in need.

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