A free town hall forum recently welcomed the public to watch students who are enrolled in a drug addiction recovery high school in Worcester, Massachusetts talk about their past struggles with substance use disorders and share personal stories.
In addition to local residents, healthcare providers, counselors, and local officials attended the event, which was led by six high school students and held on July 26.
The teens who took the stage during the town hall forum are students at the Rockdale Recovery High School, a public academic institution that has been established in the Greendale section of Worcester for almost three years.
The Rockdale Recovery High School accepts only students who are recovering from substance use disorders. It features staff members who are focused on fostering a respectful and safe environment for the teens looking to sustain their sobriety.
The representatives of the high school emphasize that they provide the students — who are between the ages of 14 and 22 — with a curriculum that is rigorous and has firmly set standards. The recovery school works diligently with each student’s school district to make sure that each teen is keeping up with local academic requirements.
The Rockdale Recovery High School is the only high school currently serving teenagers and young adults who are recovering from substance use disorders in the central region of the state.
In order to remain at the high school, the students are required to stay away from drugs. The principal of the high school and the staff members monitor the students closely and drug tests are administered regularly.
The students who are found to have relapsed need to leave the high school and are required to go through a drug detox program and go through a sober living or transitional home before they can be readmitted by the school.
The town hall forum was held in Uxbridge, at the Tri River Family Health Center, a care center that was established in 1978 and is a clinical affiliate of the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center.
The students have been working closely with the healthcare professionals from the University of Massachusetts Medical School who also spoke at the public town hall forum, highlighting alarming statistics regarding substance abuse among teens in the community.
The professionals mentioned that the Department of Public Health has reported that heroin has been the most popular substance among those who seek addiction treatment in the city Worcester, being the primary drug of choice for more than 60 percent of the admissions during 2015.
Most of the students who spoke expressed that they believe that the fact they have been able to attend the school has been what has kept them healthy and alive.
Educational leaders from other parts of the U.S. also seem to believe in the potential of the model used by the Rockdale Recovery High School and while American teens become increasingly affected by the opioid epidemic, more and more drug addiction recovery high schools are set to open through the country.