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10 Important Questions to Ask Sober High Schools
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Sober High School

For teens in recovery, going back to their home schools and old friends can mean returning to old habits.  If your teen has made a firm commitment to recovery, you might consider the option of sending your child to a sober high school like I did.

Sober high schools are academic institutions that have a state approved academic curriculum and recovery support services for teenagers in recovery from alcohol and other drug abuse or dependence.  These schools typically combine academics with a recovery culture that includes counseling for students and families.

Finding the right one can be challenging though.  Here are 10 important questions every parent should ask a sober high school before enrolling:

1.)    What kind of training has the staff had regarding adolescent addiction?

When my son was in a sober high school, the principal was a kind and knowledgeable educator, but he did not have a background in adolescent addiction and was easily manipulated into thinking the kids would voluntarily admit if they or fellow students were using. That didn’t happen. Like teenagers everywhere, not to mention teenage addicts, the kids lied about their own use and covered up for their friends. Staff needs to be educated and trained in adolescent addiction.

2.)   Does staff include specialists like therapists and substance abuse counselors?

Many students in recovery deal with co-occurring disorders like ADHD, depression, OCD or mood disorders. They may need some “mental health time” during the week, either individually or in groups. They also need substance abuse counselors who can reinforce recovery. The school should have a licensed counselor on staff.

3.)   What is the curriculum like? How is it different or similar to mainstream high school curriculum?

One of the things I liked about my son’s sober high school was how the teachers incorporated the kids’ experiences and interests into curriculum. Another neat aspect was encouraging artistic and creative expression as both part of healing and recovery and an opportunity to explore various mediums using new technology or traditional craft approaches. Self-expression, creativity and the chance to discuss how recovery relates to the real world are desirable curriculum components.

4.) Does the sober high school meet state requirements for awarding a high school degree?

Students in recovery are often behind in credits. It is important that they receive valid credits for transferring to either another high school, for graduating with a degree, or for entrance into college. Check out the school’s certification by the state.

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Posted by Judy Kirkwood  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, getting help, Recovery & Relapse, Sober High Schools  /  Comments: 1

6 Things My Husband and I Did to Save Our Marriage
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Save your marriageMiraculously, my husband Matt and I have been married for 26 years.  We are raising the last of our 4 kids together and our marriage has survived some significant hits through the years.

In our early years, there was a physical injury that resulted in the loss of Matt’s career and financial calamity, we lost a baby due to a second trimester miscarriage, we have both lost our fathers in their old age and we have faced the disease of addiction as it insidiously wound its way through our family unit.

Dealing with our daughter’s addiction was by far the most difficult and the most painful thing we have had to navigate together as a couple. In our early years, we were both sort of shell shocked and in my mind I can see the two of us just standing there with our mouths open, asking each other, “What just happened?”  It was not good. Neither one of us could believe that one of our kids, to whom we had devoted our adult lives, would have, or could have, headed off in this direction.  We lived in denial for a long time.

There was a lot of frantic hand wringing and tears, as we tried to figure out what to do.  What was normal experimentation and what was really a problem? Our biggest obstacle was that we were not in agreement on how to handle anything. I was devastated and showed it through my endless crying and obsessing. Matt was trying to calm me down so I wasn’t a hindrance to the process of trying to figure out how big of a problem this really was and how we should proceed.

Eventually, after several years and many Al-anon meetings, we were able to build a cohesive team who can now face, at least on most days, the challenges that life brings to us in a healthier and more constructive fashion.

Here are some of the things we learned:

1.) Accept Each Other. We have to learn how to accept each other as we are. This means understanding that we are doing the very best we know how to do, and most of all, that our goals are the same and we have different ways of coping — to keep our daughter alive long enough to find a healthy recovery. It set us both free to process our thoughts with each other without the fear of criticism or verbal attack. After we accepted each other, we began to acknowledge that we are a team and no one on earth has our child’s best interest at heart the way the two of us do.

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Posted by Annette  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, Family members, getting help, Marriage, Shame  /  Comments: more


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