In Ohio, Epicenter of the Nation’s Opioid Epidemic, a Day in the Life of the State’s First High School Devoted to Students in Recovery

Teacher Leslie MacNabb works with students at Heartland High School in Columbus, Ohio. The school focuses on individualized instruction for high school students in recovery from drug addiction. (Courtesy Heartland High)

It’s an exciting day for any student: The first college acceptance has arrived. But for Alyssa, a student at Heartland High, a school for teenagers in recovery from substance abuse disorders, it was even more thrilling.

“I didn’t think I was going to go to college, and I didn’t care,” she said. She’s been showing off a printout of the text message of her acceptance to Bowling Green University to everyone — students’ phones are taken at the start of the day to minimize distraction. “It was very big that I actually got in.”

Alyssa, who plans to study nursing, is one of eight students in the inaugural class at Heartland, one of about four dozen recovery high schools across the U.S., and the first in Ohio.