To Save Teen Lives: Bring an Alternative Peer Group to YOUR Town!

Welcome to Part Three of a Four Part Series on how one community and a growing number of other communities are bringing recovery deeply into the lives of its teens both through a specific recovery high school experience and through the Alternative Peer Group (APG) experience which together elevate the power of recovery in the lives of teens and their families.

Part One was: Welcome to Archway Academy – How the day begins 

Part Two was : How Archway does academics

Part Three: How APG’s are changing the lives of young people

Part Four: Generation Found – the movie that tells the story of hope for teens in recovery

– all of these can be found in the BALM weekly newsletter and on this blog page of http://www.familyrecoveryresources.com

To ask a high schooler in early recovery to maintain sobriety in the middle of an environment where drugs are easily accessible and many peers are engaging in drug seeking, selling and using behaviors, is like taking a starving person into the middle of an open food market day after day and forbid them to have any of the food.

This situation, of easy access to substances and low levels of support in and outside of school, is one of the reasons so few high schoolers appear to be ‘ready’ to get and stay clean and sober.

Enter a high quality recovery school (such as Archway Recovery Academy in Houston) to provide a sound education in a sober environment. But even that is not always enough to tip the balance for many teens to get and stay sober.

So Archway has their Passageways program which allows newcomers to the school to experience a gradual transition from treatment or aftercare into a sober high school. This experience includes high doses of recovery coaching and support, on the campus of Archway.

But even that isn’t always enough.

So Passageways sets its entering Archway students up in an Alternative Peer Group (APG) in town that is designed to give them almost 24/7 recovery support throughout their high school years. Though not all students in an APG go to a recovery high school, all Archway students must belong to an APG. Students are literally “wrapped” in recovery when they attend a sober high school and an APG group.

Teens in an APG are grouped with other teens in recovery. Over the course of their high school years, they spend their social life with each other which allows them to enjoy high school without substances as they grow in their recovery. The “fun factor” as it is called contributes greatly to their ability to endure and grow into their new substance-free lifestyle. The growth is provided not only through social opportunities however.

APG groups provide 12-step meetings for the teens and their family members, along with individual counseling, family counseling, supportive and intensive outpatient therapy.

In Houston, the APG’s work closely with residential treatment centers to provide high caliber psychiatric, mental health and counseling services for the teens.  The staff at Archway is in contact with the staffs at the APGs in Houston to confer about students and their progress.  If a student is struggling or having a bad day, a recovery coach will contact the staff at the student’s APG to let them know, so they can be aware and further help the student outside of school.  It’s this “village approach” and the ongoing communication between the professionals working at the school and the APG who support the student so he or she has a better chance of staying in recovery.

The only thing appearing to be missing from the APG experience appears to be BALM® for the families and BALM® Coaches for the families and the recovering teens!

The exciting news about APGs is that they have been around for a good long while successfully in Houston. The mystery is why they are not available in every single town and city across the US, along with recovery schools….

Young people are dying out there. Here is a program that works…Share this series of Bev’s Corner articles with people in your town who can bring Recovery Schooling and APG’s to stem the tide of relapse and overdose.

We know the family’s role is crucial. So is mutual peer support and quality education in a safe,supportive, substance-free environment. And of course, collaboration with treatment centers to insure quality treatment can only help!

This recipe of Recovery High School plus APG gives our teens a chance. Next week, the final article in this series will share a phenomenal movie written about the phenomenon of successful teen recovery. Don’t miss it!

Be A Loving Mirror!

Bev