Rebecca Bonner watched her daughter go from a size eight to a size two in just a few weeks when she was 14 years old, in the height of her substance use disorder — she still gets choked up remembering it today.
“I was watching my daughter die before my eyes,” Bonner said.
Then, Bonner struggled to find the right educational path for her daughter. Returning to her old high school seemed like the fast-track to relapse, and recovery high school programs were far away and expensive. Later in life, this struggle inspired Bonner to open up her own recovery high school in Philly. Bridge Way, a recovery high school in Manayunk, serves about 10 to 12 students a year. It costs $25,000 per year, but 75 percent of students receive financial aid.
For me, the most striking aspect about Bridge Way was that there’s no zero tolerance policy for drug use. If a student relapses, as long as they’re honest about it, they can stay at Bridge Way and continue to recover. Bonner said the high school community uses honest relapse as “a teachable moment” — a chance to learn and grow from a setback.