Recovery high schools pop up nationwide as opioid crisis hits teens
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1.1 million Americans ages 12 to 17—4.4 percent of adolescents—needed treatment for drug abuse. Only 180,000 of them actually received treatment.
Last month, the National Vital Statistics System registered 772 deaths related to drug overdoses for 15- to 17-year-olds, with an increase related to heroin and fentanyl poisoning.
Forty recovery schools have opened in 15 states, according to the Association of Recovery Schools. California, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Texas have five to eight recovery high schools, and Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Rhode Island have at least one. Delaware, which federal data show has the most rapidly growing rate of drug overdose cases in the country, also is considering the concept.
The schools can be set up within the traditional public school system, as charter schools or as private schools structured by groups fighting drug abuse.
They can be funded by taxpayer dollars, private contributions or both. Some schools ask for tuition fees to help cover medical costs.
Supporters say the schools are not detoxification centers or rehabilitation treatment facilities, but rather transition points for adolescents who have gone through treatment programs but are still too vulnerable to be put back into their home environments and among peer groups that have encouraged their substance abuse.