Recovery Schools: A Brief Overview of Promising Practices

In 2016, the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health identified schools as a key component in combatting substance abuse and providing support for ongoing recovery among youth. The Texas Education Agency’s disciplinary data for Region 4 revealed that in 2015-2016, 4,824 students have faced disciplinary actions for controlled substance/drugs and 436 students for alcohol violations. Unfortunately for many students who have undergone treatment, traditional public schools pose a threat to their sobriety due to the high rates of drugs and alcohol use among their peers. To increase abstinence and reduce the likelihood of relapsing, students can enroll in alternative schools, commonly referred to as recovery schools, as part of their continuum of care.  

At the Harris County Department of Education, the innovative Fortis Academy is the first public recovery high school for students who live in the Houston area. The school which opened in 2018 combines coaching, counseling and academics. Services are provided in a small learning community, with a low student-to-teacher ratio and individualized learning. Students attending Fortis complete a substance abuse or dependency rehab program. They continue their high school education in a sober environment. 

A hallmark feature of Fortis is its culinary arts program. In 2019-2020 students also participate in an equine therapy program. An overarching philosophy at Fortis is to move from a mentality of punishing students to helping them.  

“Peer pressure is a powerful force, so we combine counseling and coaching centers into the traditional school day to promote continued sobriety.” – Harris County School Superintendent James Colbert Jr., avid supporter of Fortis Academy

Click below to read more about the need for a recovery school such as Fortis Academy.

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