Recovery schools offer hope to young addicts

Each year, more than 300,000 U.S. teenagers get treatment for addiction.

These students each have a sad tale to tell.

Aiden Thompson, 17, started with pills, especially Vicodin. Logan Snyder started smoking marijuana when he was 13. Ian Lewis used opiates and cocaine on a regular basis.

One of the saddest tales is relapse: working hard to get clean, then falling back into self-destructive habits.

Some of these troubled teens have ended up at Hope Academy—a recovery school.

Hope Academy offers regular high-school classes to former drug users committed to staying clean. Along with academic classes the school offers support groups and an environment designed to help students stay on track.

“I am with people all day that are similar to me,” Logan Snyder explains. “We’re all going through different things, but we can all provide insight and we’re here to hold each other accountable.

Right now the United States has about three dozen recovery schools.

As opioid addiction increases, so does interest in alternative treatments, like Hope Academy.

Professor Andy Finch studies recovery schools at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Findings so far have been encouraging.

“We’re finding that students are significantly less likely  to relapse in recovery schools and also have significantly fewer days used of marijuana and other drugs,” he said.

There is no easy solution. Even at Hope Academy, students relapse.

Aiden Thompson gave in to his urges over the winter break—but got off the drugs again once classes started.

With so many temptations, staying clean is hard but with support, progress is possible.

As Ian Lewis put it, “Even if there is just a tiny bit of improvement that can be exponential because every person who is not using for just a day, that’s a miracle.”