“Recovery High” a Respite for Young Addicts

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Maybe this is a better way to address pediatric addiction?

Called The Bridge Way School, the specialized high school in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia focuses on getting teenagers back on track with their education and lives after exiting rehab. It is the only school of its kind in the region – one of only some three dozen nationwide.

“We have kids come in with 30 days [sobriety], they’re not sure how school is going to go, they haven’t done well in school for a while and then they see the environment that we have here,” says Rebecca Bonner, who runs the school. “And in two or three weeks, you see kids who haven’t worked in class for years who say ‘Oh, I’m getting a B’ and they’re actually working.”

Ranging from 9th to 12th grades, every student is recovering from some type of addiction and goes through regular coursework like English, Math and Science. But unlike typical schools, the teens talk about their recovery regularly.

Students begin their day with a 20 minute face-to-face with a counselor and staff to discuss how they’re feeling and whether they’ve been triggered to use again.

“If it’s serious enough, our counselor may just pull that kid for 20 minutes. It is so different from what a regular school does where a kid might sit on something all day,” Bonner said. “They learn nothing because they’re processing whatever that is. We try to catch it early so they can process that and get right back on track.”

Before leaving for the day, the students have another sit down to discuss their plans for the afternoon and evening. They also spend about 50 minutes, four times a week, in group sessions talking about their addiction and recovery with peers.

“The adults can say whatever we say and we can be supportive and encouraging, but the kids are the ones that give each other the support. That is positive peer pressure,” Bonner said.

via “Recovery High” a Respite for Young Addicts | NBC 10 Philadelphia.

 

How Exercise Can Prime the Brain for Addiction

 

This makes sense, but is a weird thing to think about. Drug addiction may be more difficult to kick if it became habitual while exercise if part of your routine:

 

It does indicate that shedding an addiction acquired when a person has been exercising could be extra challenging, he says.

“But, really, what the study shows,” he continues, “is how profoundly exercise affects learning.”

When the brains of the mice were examined, he points out, the runners had about twice as many new brain cells as the animals that had remained sedentary, a finding confirmed by earlier studies. These cells were centered in each animal’s hippocampus, a portion of the brain critical for associative learning, or the ability to associate a new thought with its context.

So, the researchers propose, the animals that had been running before they were introduced to cocaine had a plentiful supply of new brain cells primed to learn. And what they learned was to crave the drug. Consequently, they had much more difficulty forgetting what they’d learned and moving on from their addiction.

That same mechanism appeared to benefit animals that had started running after becoming addicted. Their new brain cells helped them to rapidly learn to stop associating drug and place, once the cocaine was taken away, and start adjusting to sobriety.

“Fundamentally, the results are encouraging,” Dr. Rhodes says. They show that by doubling the production of robust, young neurons, “exercise improves associative learning.”

But the findings also underscore that these new cells are indiscriminate and don’t care what you learn. They will amplify the process, whether you’re memorizing Shakespeare or growing dependent on nicotine.