What is a Sober School? Understanding This Unique Option for Teens in Recovery

what is a sober school

If your teen is in crisis, you’re likely feeling lost, overwhelmed, and wondering what to do next. What’s the best option for your teen and for your family? How will you support your child in recovery while making sure they won’t suffer academic loss? The questions are large and looming. A sober school like Archway Academy is a wonderful, but not widely known, solution for teenagers who are struggling with addiction. 

What exactly is a sober high school? A sober school, or recovery school, is a specialized educational institution designed to support students who are in recovery from substance abuse or addiction and who might be struggling with co-occurring disorders. These schools provide a safe and supportive environment where students can focus on their academic studies while also receiving the necessary support and resources to maintain their sobriety.

These schools typically offer a traditional high school curriculum while also incorporating elements of substance abuse education, counseling, and support groups. The goal is to provide a holistic approach to education and recovery, addressing not only the academic needs of the students but also their emotional, social, and physical well-being.

While each school has a different method of operating, sober schools all share the following main goals:

  • Educate students in recovery from substance use or co-occurring disorders
  • Meet state requirements for awarding secondary school diplomas
  • Enroll all students in recovery and work through a program of recovery from substance use or co-occurring disorders as determined by the student and the school
  • Be available to any student in recovery (students don’t have to go through a particular treatment program to enroll, and the school is not simply the academic component of a primary or extended-care treatment facility or therapeutic boarding school)

In a sober school, students may have access to counseling services, peer support groups or alternative peer groups (APGs), and other resources to help them navigate the challenges of recovery while pursuing their education. The environment is often structured to minimize triggers and temptations associated with substance abuse, creating a supportive community where students can thrive.

Staffing in a sober school includes administrative staff, certified teachers, licensed chemical dependency counselors, and mental health professionals (learn more about Archway’s team). In addition, sober high schools give support to families learning how to live with their teens who are embarking on their recovery journey. At Archway Academy, there is no overlap with our staff — teachers don’t serve as counselors and counselors don’t teach. While everyone works together in the best interest of the students, the roles remain separate to ensure that each staff member is operating within their own expertise. 

Overall, sober schools like Archway Academy play a crucial role in providing a supportive and nurturing environment for students in recovery, helping them to stay on track academically while also focusing on their long-term sobriety and well-being. Sustained recovery is the goal through all of our education and programming.

We know that this isn’t easy. Supporting a teen who you suspect or know is in crisis has multiple layers and involves numerous resources. At Archway Academy, we believe that each student has individual needs that can be met with a combination of counseling, peer support, mental health support, and education — all without sacrificing academic strength. If you’re looking for more information about whether Archway Academy is right for you and what we can offer you and your child, we’re here to help. Please schedule an appointment online and one of our compassionate, expert counselors will reach out to you to discuss how a sober school can benefit your family.


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We’re here to help — no judgment, no pressure, just compassion.  


Archway opened its doors in 2003 to offer students and worried families in the throes of teenage substance use a viable option and support system for restoring their child’s physical, mental, emotional, and academic health. We’re located in the heart of Houston, Texas, and are focused on meeting the individual educational needs of teens recovering from substance use disorder with care, compassion, respect, and rigor. Instead of returning students to the same environments in which they’re most at risk for relapse or might have trouble catching up academically, Archway provides a structured place for teens to continue both their recovery and their education without compromising either. 


We offer a continuum of care from probation officers to private counselors, residential treatment clinicians to Alternative Peer Groups. Archway keeps in constant contact with every student’s unique personal network — triaging tasks and arming our students (and each other) with shared information to ensure that no important details slip through the cracks; to address behaviors and remove barriers; and to remain consistent and aligned in our approach to getting each student well. Today, we are the largest recovery school in the country, and currently mentoring new recovery schools throughout the nation.

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