Recovery High Schools: Supporting the Adolescent Continuum of Care

Dr. Andy Finch

Date: September 7th 11:00 am Studio 411


Recovery high schools provide post-treatment education and recovery support for young people with substance use disorders (SUDs) and are receiving heightened interest from policymakers and funders. The U.S. National Drug Control Strategy and the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report have specifically discussed the role of recovery schools in fostering community and peer-based approaches.

This presentation will consider how recovery high schools fit into the substance use & co-occurring disorder continuum of care. The presenter will review final data from the first NIH-funded comparative outcomes study of recovery high schools.

This study used a longitudinal quasi-experimental design to examine the effects of RHS attendance on adolescents’ outcomes, specifically examining whether students who have received treatment for SUDs and who subsequently attend RHSs, experience significantly better behavioral outcomes (less alcohol and other drug use) and educational outcomes (higher GPA, better attendance) compared to recovering students who attend school in other settings.

The results provide strong evidence of a positive effect of RHSs for adolescents who have received treatment for SUDs.

Learning Objectives:

1. learn how recovery high schools fit into the substance use & co-occurring disorder continuum of care;
2. receive data from a comparative outcomes study of recovery high schools;
3. explore the cost-effectiveness of recovery high schools and a cost-benefit analysis to estimate the “return on investment” and the net benefits of post-treatment entrance into recovery high schools.


Andrew J. Finch, PhD is Associate Professor of the Practice of Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Finch co-founded of the Association of Recovery Schools in 2002. Among his numerous published works on recovery and education are Starting a Recovery School (2005) and Approaches to Substance Abuse and Addiction in Educational Communities: A Guide to Practices that Support Recovery in Adolescents and Young Adults (2010), on which he was a co-editor. For nine years, Dr. Finch worked for Community High School in Nashville, one of the early schools for teens recovering from alcohol and other drug addictions and a school he helped design and open in 1997. Dr. Finch also helped found Vanderbilt University’s collegiate recovery program in 2007 and currently serves on its advisory committee. Dr. Finch most recent projects include a recovery school outcomes study, funded by NIDA, and a recovery high school history, to be published by Oxford University Press.

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