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The ABC’s of Recovery High

I completed my PhD dissertation research working with children with exceptionalities. They were such a remarkable group of kids and families that I still think of them often. I was recently asked to explain the crux of why recovery education works so well. It just popped into my head, ABC; the very same fundamental principal that guides behavioural therapy in children with exceptionalities. No, I have not been watching too much Sesame Street, in behavioural therapy, ABC stands for antecedent, behaviour, and consequence. In the context of recovery high schools, we are removing the antecedents of poor behaviour in teens; those precursors that existed in that student’s life (deviant peers, social complacency, availability) that prompted them to make the poor choices (the behaviour of drug or alcohol use) and the ensuing consequences (dependency and poor social outcomes). Instead, we replace those antecedents with new precursors; supportive peers, compassionate and often empathetic adults, a clean environment, and a strong, focused learning milieu. By doing so, we change the behaviour from one of drug or alcohol use within a complacent context to abstinence within a loud and proud recovery context. And ultimtely, the consequences take a steep left turn at the fork in the road from a future with poor and highly compromised potential to a bright and rewarding future. Is it always going to work? Well, we cannot control everything about the student, they still have to make choices outside of the school environment, but the odds are certainly in their favour by living the ABC’s of recovery day in and day out.

Funny how the world comes full circle. I initially thought that I could never connect the incredible things I learned in my dissertation with this amazing model of recovery education. I am so glad I was wrong.

Yours truly,

Eileen Shewen MBA PhD Founder and CEO

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