Drug Testing Lab Helps Students in Recovery
Ammon Labs, a clinical lab headquartered in Linden, New Jersey that specializes in the substance use industry kicked off a backpack drive, encouraging their employees to purchase supplies for students in Recovery High Schools.
Working in the treatment industry, Ammon employees truly understand the devastation of addiction and the importance of recovery, and were more than happy to pitch in. They wanted to ensure the students had the tools and supplies they needed for a successful school year, and filled the donation boxes up quickly. Each employee also gave a hand-written note of encouragement to put in each backpack.
The recipients of Ammon’s gifts were three public Recovery High Schools in New Jersey: The Raymond J. Lesniak High School in Roselle; K.E.Y.S. Academy Recovery High School, part of the Matawan-Aberdeen School System, and located in Lincroft; and Coastal Preparatory High School in Cape May Courthouse.
According to the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS), recovery high schools are secondary schools designed specifically for students in recovery from substance use disorder or dependency. The staff of recovery high schools most often includes administrative staff, teachers, substance abuse counselors, and mental health professionals that each play a critical role in supporting their students. Additionally, recovery schools provide support for families learning to how to live with, and provide support for, their teens entering into the recovery lifestyle.
Ammon Labs is an integral part of the substance use treatment industry by providing drug testing and data analytics that allow medical professionals to facilitate effective treatment protocols for their patients. “We learned that Recovery High Schools do not get the funding and support they need since they are fairly unknown in the educational scene,” explains Ammon CEO Stephen Haupt. “The growing opioid epidemic demonstrates the crucial need to start the recovery process as early as possible. Being a teenager and saying no to alcohol and drugs is a giant step and immense stressor for young adults. These recovery high schools allow these students to continue their commitment to sobriety in an environment that is safe, non-judgmental and encouraging. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to get the stigma associated with substance use away from these kids so that many more teens can take advantage of these schools and thrive. Ammon Labs and our employees are truly honored to help these students in their quest for success and hope more students and their families know that these resources are out there for them.”
The Raymond J. Lesniak Experience Strength and Hope Recovery High School (E.S.H.) opened in September of 2014 and was the first public recovery high school in the state of New Jersey. The Lesniak school is a partnership between Prevention Links, a recovery support organization, and the Union County Vo-Tech school system.
“Many of our students and families have faced a variety of barriers and challenges. By providing them with basic school supplies, we are able to eliminate an additional obstacle to achieving academic success,” says Sabrina Sabater, Prevention Links Director of Recovery Support and an integral part of the Lesniak Recovery High School. “We are so grateful to Ammon Labs for helping us prepare the students for a successful 2019-2020 school year!”
K.E.Y.S, which stands for Knowledge Empowers Youth and Sobriety began in 2018 with 5 students enrolled and now offers services to 11 students. With the support from NJ DOE they can accommodate up to 30. “At K.E.Y.S. we truly believe through increasing knowledge we can empower youth on a path to sobriety,” explains Nelyda Perez, Assistant Superintendent of Special Services.
“Our focus,” she continues, “is to work on the whole child, providing not only education to achieve graduation, but to provide the recovery support for students and families. We take a holistic approach which includes mind, body, and spirit. We work closely with social service and government agencies to extend support for our students so they can be successful in our community.”
According to Jennise Nieves, Student Assistance Counselor for K.E.Y.S., “By having family involvement and creating a recovery support plan for each student, both the student and the family will be part of the intake process, participating in meetings, counseling sessions, certified peer recovery support and wellness programs offered through the Academy.”
A recent proud graduate of the K.E.Y.S. program would like others to know that success is possible. “I have some friends who have dropped out of high school and they’re selling drugs and getting arrested,” he said. “I want to let people know that you don’t have to go down that path. It’s never too late to switch the lane you’re in and re-route your life. That’s what I’m in the process of doing. It’s very hard, but it’s doable.”
Coastal Prep, the newest recovery high school in New Jersey opened their doors in March 2019 and is part of Cape Assist, a substance abuse prevention and treatment agency in Cape May County, NJ.
Dr. Toni Lehman, co-leader of the Coastal Prep program initiative and the primary advisor on its educational aspects explains, “Recovery high schools meet some of the challenges that adolescents face after they emerge from a more intense recovery environment. Resuming school brings a layer of stress; immediately returning to their home school can be a relapse risk. In New Jersey and other states, recovery high schools serve as supportive transition points, keeping students on track toward graduation requirements while providing specialized support for addiction recovery.”
Anna Cannella, Transition Coordinator at Cape Assist adds, “Coastal Prep Recovery High School is designed to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of students in early recovery. We equally prioritize well-being and academic success. The needs of our students are diverse, so the Coastal Prep staff creates individualized plans for each student that meet the needs of each student where they are now. Coastal Prep is a fresh start for students, surrounding adolescents with peers who share in the struggles of battling substance use disorders.”
Stephen Haupt, CEO of Ammon and a person in long term recovery himself, believes that education is an immeasurable factor in the success of recovery. In 2016, he created the Ammon Foundation, an organization that provides educational scholarships to individuals in recovery. The Ammon Foundation has worked with various recovery high schools to help their graduates continue their educational and career goals beyond high school. He envisions a world where all who have suffered from addiction are able to access and sustain long-term recovery, in hope that they will be able to experience the same freedom and joy he does.
For more information about recovery high schools, please visit the Association of Recovery Schools’ website at https://recoveryschools.org/.
For more information about Ammon Labs, please visit their website at AmmonLabs.com.