Staying Sober: School helps students with addictions

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All across the state, many schools are out for winter break and that includes Hope Academy on the north side of Indianapolis. But the student body of nearly 30 students share a unique and common bond: struggles with sobriety.

At the beginning and end of each week, the student body meets in a circle to talk about living their live sober and the week's challenges.

“I learned it's better to completely remove yourself from a toxic relationship than try to fix it,” one student said while talking about what he learned that week.

Freshmen through senior, all the students come from different financial and family backgrounds.

“I was just in a really bad state of mind and my drug use picked up pretty heavily,” one student said.

She and her family moved to a new town about a year ago where she felt alone.

“Heroin was my drug of choice. I don't like saying that,” she explained.

But it's all part of her past.

She graduated on Friday with six months of sobriety.

“I never thought I'd be able to say that, so that's a huge thing for me,” she smiled.

But addiction is a never ending battle.

“It's a journey; we're not asking them to sprint toward the end,” said Rachelle Gardner with Hope Academy.

Gardner is one of the founders of Hope Academy.

It's a charter school, with Core 40 curriculum and I-STEP testing, but the lessons also focus on sobriety.

“The students are not in a large school system where they can't necessarily find another student in recovery,” Gardner explained.

On a large wall in the hallway, students like Senior Kennedy Honeycott track their progress, moving their names to the number of days sober.

She's gone from counting days and weeks, to counting months.

“I'm all the way down here on 9 months,” she proudly explained.

She's noticed her relationship with her mother benefit from her sobriety.

“Our relationship has been so good, like we're best friends now and she's like my everything,” Honeycott said.

While these students head out for break there's some apprehensiveness, as the holidays can be an unstructured and stressful time.

So during break, the school will open to kids can return for a moment of clarity.

“I enjoy myself a lot more when I'm sober. There are less struggles being in sobriety,” another student said during the circle gathering.

The goal is to apply what they've learned to date, to get the numbers up when it comes to the days spent sober.

“I'm hoping that they will have increased 14 days of sobriety. Realistically, I know there will be some kids who have struggled,” Gardner said.

Nearly half a dozen students graduated Friday and will go on to college, all hoping to do so clean.

Hope Academy starts class again on January 5 and enrollment continues at all points throughout the school year, with little to no cost to parents.

[MORE ONLINE:  Hope Academy at Fairbanks]