Unique High School Helps Teens Battling Drug, Alcohol Addiction

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  As one of the first of its kind in the United States, a unique program is designed for teenagers battling drug and alcohol addiction.

For many, the only way out is to break away from the temptations and peer pressure.

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Scientific studies have shown up to 85 percent of students with addiction problems relapse after treatment, when they return to their former high schools.

But Lisa, who started using drugs when she was 14, found help with a special kind of high school program.

“My life was really out of control,” she said. “I thought about it and thought, ‘There’s no way I can live the rest of my life like this. I can’t do this anymore.'”

She was able to eventually complete her senior year at a recovery high school.

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It’s part classroom, part recovery program, where students commit to being drug and alcohol-free, away from the temptations of their past.

“When you look at kids, they go into treatment, they go right back into school, they’re surrounded by all of their same friends. That’s unfortunately where they’re meeting their drug dealers, drug-dealing friends,” Pamela Capaci, CEO of Prevention Links said.

Recovery schools have been around since the 1980s, but in the past four years, the number has grown rapidly to 41 across the country.

“I don’t care if it’s one kid, we’ve literally changed the course of her life and the ripple effect that she’s going to have on other people. If we have to do it one student at a time, that’s fine with me,” Capaci said.

A recent government study finds nearly 9 percent of teenagers in the United States are abusing illegal drugs.

Lisa says she’s been clean for more than two years.

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Her new life is that of a college sophomore at Rutgers University, where she lives in an alcohol-free dorm, planning for a career in finance.

The Association of Recovery Schools says there’s a lot of interest in opening more sober high schools but cost is a challenge. It cost about $6,000 more per student a year than a traditional high school.

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