Recovery high schools open in more states

First facilities open in Ohio and Oregon, though no public schools exist in Wisconsin despite new law
By: | September 11, 2019
Beth Mattey, then president of the National Association of School Nurses, holds the inhalant form of naloxone, the emergency antidote that can revive students after a heroin overdose, in this photo from 2016.Beth Mattey, then president of the National Association of School Nurses, holds the inhalant form of naloxone, the emergency antidote that can revive students after a heroin overdose, in this photo from 2016.

Ohio has opened its first recovery high school to help students struggling with substance abuse overcome their addictions and stay on track academically, NBC4 (WCMH-TV) reports.

Heartland High School, which operates in a church in Columbus, currently serves 10 students, but administrators expect enrollment to grow quickly, the TV station reports.

Harmony Academy in the Oregon’s Lake Oswego School District is the first recovery high school to open in that state, ABC 2 (KATU-TV) reports. The school sits on the suburban-Portland campus of the now-closed Marylhurst University.

And Pennsylvania’s second such school recently opened, and will be the first faith-based program in the country, Lehighvalleylive.com reports.

But in Wisconsin, no public recovery high schools have opened in the two years since the state authorized such programs, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. There is one private recovery school in Madison, the newspaper says.

Just about 40 recovery schools exist across the country, despite research showing that the programs help students stay clean and earn diplomas, District Administration reported in June.


Read more from DA: Recovery high schools make dent in teen substance abuse


Traditional high schools “are not really set up to serve young people who are in recovery,” Michael Durchslag, the director of  P.E.A.S.E. Academy, a recovery school in Minneapolis, told DA. “Students should not have to choose between their recovery and their education.”

One reason these school are effective is that they can keep students away from friends who use heroin, opioids or other drugs. Also, recovering addicts sometimes have a hard time fitting in with nonusers.

“If kids can’t find new peer groups, it’s going to be really hard for them to change their behaviors,” Andy Finch, an author of a book about recovery schools and an associate professor of human and organizational development at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told DA.