Opioid epidemic has some teens turning to recovery schools - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Opioid epidemic has some teens turning to recovery schools

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ROSELLE, NJ - The opioid epidemic has swept young people across the country into addiction and for many teenagers, the only way out is to break away from the temptations and peer pressure.

Lisa K was 14 years-old when she tried drugs for the first time and within two years, drinking and getting high were her top priority. Then at the age of 16, she left school for rehab.

"My life was really out of control and 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'," Lisa said.

She never returned to her public school in New Jersey and instead completed her senior year at a recovery high school. The facility she attended is part classroom and 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,' said Prevention Links CEO Pamela Capaci.

Recovery schools have been around since the 1980's 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.

Lisa says she's been clean for more than two years and there hasn't been any temptation to fall back into her old ways. Her new life is a college sophomore at Rutgers University where she lives in an alcohol-free dorm while planning for a career in finance.

The Association of Recovery Schools says it has received over 100 inquiries over the last year from people interested in opening a sober high school. A recent government study finds nearly 9% of teenagers in the United States are abusing illegal drugs.

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