Rebecca Bonner said high schools are often students “pharmacy of choice.” It was the case for her daughter.
When her daughter was dealing with her addiction, Bonner did research on recovery high schools and found out that the closest school was in Boston.
It inspired Bonner to start her own school: Bride Way School — the only recovery high school in Philadelphia.
A large issue in young recovery is that most students, after leaving their treatment, go back to the high school where their addiction started, being exposed to the same people as before. It creates a higher chance of relapse because of the familiar environment.
“If it was an adult, we would never send them back to the bar where they were hanging out before they got treatment,” she said.
The school doesn’t have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to relapse. Although it may be a surprising model, Bonner added that they use it as a “teachable moment” if honesty comes first.
The school takes an estimated 10-12 students each year and there are daily check-ins a few times per day to help students talk about their needs and concerns at that point in their recovery. There are also process groups four times per week.
92 percent of students at Bridge Way go on to higher education and 86 percent maintain their recovery throughout their time at the school, Bonner said. She said that the personal attention given to the small student population is one of the main reasons for this success.
But Bonner said what is most important is having other students in recovery surrounding one another.
“It is peer pressure in the best way possible,” she said.