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?


4 Responses to “Gil Kerlikowske and Recovery High Schools”

  1. Patrice Sarna Says:

    Any chance Mayor Bloomberg can help? Maybe just visit and listen!!

    OUR teenagers are in diar need in NYC!!! Come on we should be groundbreaking in NYC!!!

  2. corecompany Says:

    We have requested a meeting with Mayor Bloomberg (no response from his office as of today) and have tried to get Joel Klein to help us in our effort to establish a recovery high school in NY, but haven’t had much luck. Let’s get everyone in the recovery community to support this cause and start a recovery high school!! Write your letters to Mayor Bloomberg.

  3. Steve Alpert Says:

    How many people do you know who have been affected by substance addiction? How many families do you know who have been torn apart by this disease? Cancer used to be something nobody wanted to talk about, same with AIDS and a number of other disease that have torn apart people’s lives.

    I am a native New Yorker. New York has a big collective ego about being the “Capital of the World.” We like to think we are the leading city in Finance, Media, the Arts, Sports, Education. We like to think of ourselves as innovators and far reaching over-achievers. We indeed are that in many areas but we New Yorkers are woefully behind in addressing the needs of the masses of unique individuals who are gripped by the disease of Addiction.

    Addiction is a disease and Addiction is treatable. The days of thinking all an addict has to do is, “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” is so over. Time to pull back the cover of shame Addiction. We need to offer the support of proven methodology in the public school setting for our young people who desperately need it.

    Time to deal with this pervasive issue head-on and provide the chance for young people to get out from under the shame of Addiction and offer the support they need to have a life.

    Hey. New York, wake up to the fact that if other communities are committed to saving lives and families in the open setting of public schools, we can too.

  4. Very thoughtful words, and I too am excited about the attention being shown by local and national leaders. I am hopeful due to your efforts that NYC will finally have a recovery school. It has been too long, especially in a city with so many alternative types of schools. Keep on workin’ it!

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