A Generation Found in Recovery High Schools

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An interview with Greg Williams by our ever-popular guest blogger, Rose Lockinger. Learn more about Greg’s newest documentary, Generation Found. MWM

Greg Williams’ new documentary Generation Found opened on Tuesday, with special showings taking place throughout the country. Following the success of his 2013 documentary The Anonymous People Williams once again shines a line on the recovery community, only this time his focus has shifted from away from breaking the stigma of anonymity, to advocating for better treatment solutions for adolescent addicts in the country.  This film does an excellent job of raising awareness to the need for change in the way we approach treatment.  As a documentary, it does an excellent job at bringing to light not only addiction but effective treatment methods.  So often in Hollywood, we see the accurate depictions of addiction but few that shed light on the hope of recovery. It shows a way of living that encourage individuals to live in an unapologetic manner regarding to their recovery.

The film Generation Found focuses particularly on Recovery High Schools in the United States and how their methodology of creating community among teens who want to be sober is offering a new and successful approach to treating adolescent addiction.

For many years it has been known that 9 out of 10 people who suffer from addiction get their start on this path in their teenage years. Yet the treatment options available to these at-risk teens have been limited to traditional adult treatment methods that offer little to no success in helping kids.

Many teens that get in trouble or decide they need to get sober are relegated to residential treatment facilities that offer no real support once they are discharged and then they are returned back to their high schools where their dealers may be and they are surrounded by the people they used with.

If these teens are lucky enough to stay sober for any period of time once they get out of treatment their options for continued support usually consists of 12 Step Meetings where adults are the majority of the population and their ability to relate is almost nonexistent.

This is where Recovery High Schools come into play and they offer a sense of community and continued support that other adolescent treatment options do not currently offer. The film shows that Recovery High Schools are part of a greater pipeline of support for these kids that follows them from their initial treatment all the way through their college years.

The way that this pipeline works is that first, the adolescent addict enters into a residential treatment facility. These treatment facilities are much like that of their adult counterparts with the other difference being that they are specifically for addicts under the age of 18.

Once the teens finish their residential treatment they then have the option of enrolling in a Recovery High School, although there are currently only 36 in the United States. The Recovery High School is almost like a regular high school except that everyone in the school is in recovery. There are random and regular drug tests and there are even classes centered on recovery based ideas.

These schools allow their students to create a vibrant and thriving recovery community, which would have been almost impossible if they had gone back to their regular high schools. Also, since the emphasis is on recovery the students receive extra support that their normal high schools would not have been to give.

This added support includes teachers and administrators who are in recovery themselves and Alternative Peer Groups, or APGs, which act as sort of 12 Step Meetings specifically for kids under the age of 18. These APGs are an important part of the recovery process in these schools because it gives the teens an ability to relate to other teen addicts and see that recovery is, in fact, possible.

Once the students graduate from their Recovery High School many then choose to go on to college, as the film showed that the graduating class from Archway Academy, one of the schools highlighted in the film, had a college acceptance rate of 96% among their graduating seniors.

Transitioning from the recovery community in their high school to that of a normal college campus can be difficult for young people in recovery, as college campuses are known bastions for drugs and alcohol. But with the help of organizations like Association of Recovery in High Education and other support networks, these students are given every opportunity to have support in whatever they need.

The idea of following teens from initial intake to graduation from college is an incredible shift in the way that we think about recovery for teenagers. In the past, the overwhelming thought process, whether admitted or not, was that many of these teens were not yet ready to get sober and so the best that anyone could do was try to mitigate the damage done until they were adults and hit bottom.

By addressing their addiction in their teenage years and then offering the support that is needed for them to actually overcome their addiction, means that programs like Recovery High Schools are giving entire generations of addicts a fighting chance at getting clean and sober a lot earlier.

However, the film does expose one of the flaws in this system and it speaks to a greater schism in our society, that of the haves and have-nots. It was apparent from the film that the children attending the Recovery High School were from families of means and that these opportunities were not available to all children.

At one point in the film, the filmmakers travel a lower income neighborhood in Houston and it is relayed that there are no APGs available for the teens of that community and many are left with only traditional methods of support for recovery. Getting the teens in their community the same treatment options as their wealthier counterparts was the goal of a number of activists in these communities and hopefully, with the exposure offered by Generation Found, they will receive this.

Overall Generation Found was a thought provoking film that made me reevaluate my own stance on teenager recovery. It showed me that there really may be a solution for breaking the cycle of addiction at an earlier age and that with the correct support and enough faith anything truly is possible. The students in the film were a testament to how transformative recovery can be for someone’s life and that anyone, regardless of age, sex, creed, or color can recover.

About This Week’s Guest Blogger – Rose Lockinger

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

Find Rose Lockinger on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

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