Gil Kerlikowske and Recovery High Schools
Whenever I am on my soapbox I often wonder what it all means. Having worked in chemical dependency and being interested in the politics of it, I form a lot of opinions. I stand and point, frequently. I advocate for treating chemical dependency as a health issue and not as something that can be addressed by paramilitary interventions, but what does all of this mean?
One of the ways to foster change is to support recovery high schools. Recovery high schools are community based scaffolding built around young people who are committed to living intoxicant free and need help to do it. In other words, we can send kids to treatment, but then what? High School? They don’t call that institution HIGH school for nothing. Currently there are 30 recovery high schools nationwide (not one in NYC, c’mon New York 12 steppers, get active!). They range in size and funding but in my view they bring a complex issue into honesty. They address a chronic problem at a maintenance level rather than when the fever spikes and the crisis hits. The outcomes are great. Grades are better, graduation rates are better, and matriculations to higher education rates are better.
One of the difficulties about measuring success in recovery is that we will never know what isn’t happening, who knows what would become of the kids if they didn’t have a recovery high school to attend? Jail? Maybe? Death? Maybe? Emotional turmoil? Almost certainly.
I attended the association of Recovery High Schools in Indianapolis and learned a lot. The highlight for me was that Greg Ballard, mayor of Indianapolis, took the time to attend the conference and address the attendees. We need more people in government who understand the power of recovery, especially for young people. Additionally, Gil Kerlikowske sent some staffers to scope out what recovery schools are and what they mean. I also learned that Gil visited North Shore Community High, a recovery High School in Mass. Thank you Mayor Ballard and Czar Kerlikowske for supporting these schools. Any chance you can get mayor Bloomberg to look into this?