Where Recovery and Education Converge: Pennsylvania

September 24, 2020 By rqin

By: Kali Fields, Director, Grassroots Advocacy

The ups and downs of high school are part of the universal American experience – but for those struggling with addiction, this time in adolescence can be riddled with anxiety, depression, and hardships. Luckily, we have people like John Petruzzelli who serves as principal of Kolbe Academy—America’s first faith-based recovery high school. As principal, Mr. Petruzzelli offers a safe and encouraging atmosphere for students to feel accepted, openly communicate with peers facing similar struggles, and be reminded they are more than their addiction.

According to the CDC, Pennsylvania has one of the highest opioid-related overdose death rates in the country. In an effort to combat addiction, Kolbe Academy opened their doors in 2019 as a recovery high school for students struggling with addiction. No student will be expelled if they relapse, but Kolbe hopes to add support and structure to their students’ lives.

Located in Bethlehem, PA, high school students not only study mathematics, English, history, science and more, but are also responsible for completing community service credits and attending daily counseling sessions. The school holds both group and individual counseling sessions to foster students’ emotional growth and recovery. Kolbe Academy has teamed up with the Mid-Atlantic Rehabilitation Services (MARS) in Bethlehem and ensure drug counselors are always on campus, as well as teachers trained in mental health, trauma-informed strategies, and drug trends and awareness.

Educating Kolbe Academy students on non-opioid options is an important aspect of ensuring long-term recovery. Folks in recovery need to know their options, outside of opioids, when managing their postsurgical pain to ensure their risk of relapse is minimized. Advocating for the highest standard of care is imperative to everyone’s well-being and that begins with knowing opioid alternatives exists. The students have a lifetime ahead of them, and as a society we need to ensure all available resources are at their disposal for the highest rates of success. However, non-opioid therapies to manage acute pain are currently excluded from full separate reimbursement, making them much harder for clinicians and patients to access and utilize. The Non-Opioids Prevention Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act would correct this problem and add another layer of protection for our country’s youth in recovery. Ensuring access to non-addictive pain management therapies is one way to limit exposure to opioids.

Voices is proud to team up with Kolbe Academy in the battle against the opioid epidemic. To learn more about Kolbe Academy, visit their website here: https://kolbe-academy.com/