How to handle drug abuse at a boarding academy

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At a therapeutic boarding academy, such as White River Academy, many students attend in order to overcome a health disorder or substance abuse issues. However, some teens may attempt to continue abusing drugs while at the academy. Though a sneaky adolescent may attempt to bring drugs to the facility, these teens are usually caught before long. A secure boarding school will not allow a student to get away with much before they are inevitably caught.


Nonetheless, each boarding academy or boarding school has its own rules and policy regarding drug abuse that takes place. Some schools may choose to have a no tolerance policy, in which the student will no longer be permitted to attend the school. The advantage of this method is that it will act as a powerful reinforcement for other students not to attempt such action. Though it is true some rebellious students may not care if they are kicked out, such teens will still have to deal with their parents regarding the nature of their dismissal.

However, there is another method of dealing with students who are caught using. Students may be given closer therapeutic attention to help them overcome their substance abuse troubles. This is meant to be a more proactive approach as opposed to simply shunning the student and therefore denying them the opportunity for further treatment. Nonetheless, there should still be a punishment for students that do abuse drugs at a school or academy. This will remind all students that while such behavior will not lead to immediate dismissal, it will still not be tolerated and there will be consequences as a result. The punishment should be the same for all students so that fairness is ensured.

Myths vs. Facts

Before deciding if a boarding academy is a proper choice for their child, parents should first educate themselves about the reality of such an institution. The truth of the matter is that there are many myths that surround boarding school. One of these myths is that drugs and alcohol are prevalent in such an environment, but this is not the case. A boarding academy is actually a less likely environment for drug abuse to occur because it is more controlled.

Adults are present throughout all of the daily activities in the lives of the adolescent. This is why if a student does find a way to bring drugs to the premises, they will soon be caught. Schedules are busy and there is less possibility for free time, making recreational use less possible.

While it may not be fair to call such behavior impossible, public life at the facility will cause the odds to be highly stacked against the student.


As a student seeks to overcome their substance abuse, therapists and other staff can ask them about their use of controlled substances. In these sessions, the teen and a clinician can discuss topics such as how drug abuse is a temporary fix to a deeper problem. Abusing drugs may help the teen feel better, but then when they are caught, it makes them feel worse. The student may also be asked to consider how the choice to use may affect their future. It could perhaps lead to conflicts with peers or present dangerous habits in adulthood. Explain to a young person what the dangers are realistically, including legal troubles or health difficulties they might face.

Of course, a holistic approach to treatment will prove valuable to all clients. Methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy will help a teen to better evaluate their past behavior and the consequences of that behavior. Of course, this can then be replaced with new means of adaptive behavior that will help them to better be a happy, healthy adult. Medication may also be used when appropriate, especially in more severe cases, such as when an adolescent is detoxing or withdrawing from opioids.


At a therapeutic boarding school, it will be important for staff to remember that there are students attending because of substance abuse problems. Therefore, it should not necessarily come as a surprise that a young person may relapse in their struggle to stay sober. While not all young people have tried drugs or alcohol, there are a number of curious ones who have. Seeing as they are at a therapeutic boarding school for a resulting issue, this can be a powerful opportunity to turn around a student’s attitude about abuse. Young people may be more adaptable to new points of view. Perhaps this can be an opportunity to change their lifestyle before controlled substances cause further troubles in adulthood.

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