Let's Talk: Discussion of Episode One of MTV's “16 and Recovering” Part Two

Let's Talk: Discussion of Episode One of MTV's “16 and Recovering” Part Two

Video length: 1:37


[Female Voice Over]

Michelle Lipinski who’s the Director of Northshore Recovery High School. 

[Michelle speaking]

I started the school because I was running an alternative school in Salem, Massachusetts and a lot of my students started becoming addicted to prescription medications and I wasn’t aware of what was going on. At one point in time, I believe back in 2004, I had a student who actually came in with a backpack, and usually I search backpacks all the time, and he wouldn’t give me his backpack and I was like, that’s really odd, and so he kind of threw it at me and ran and there were prescription medications and it was actually three unmarked pill bottles full of oxycontin. 

I didn’t know what it was. And so I went home that night and started doing my research and I was like, oh, my gosh, this is going up in Virginia, in West Virginia and Kentucky and finally my eyes opened and I realized what was happening and I realized as an alternative schoolteacher I should know this, and I didn’t know this.

So, I started thinking about things differently and really reaching out to public health people and saying what am I doing wrong. I realized everything I was doing was wrong as an educator. I was making people… If they came in under the influence, I was suspending them. If they came in and they were in a psychiatric crisis I would say, you have to just think about it. I was literally kicking kids out of school, not knowing that I was kicking kids out of school. So, I started really looking into this from with a public health lens and realized, holy hell, I’ve done everything wrong. 

And so I spoke with my superintendent for a couple of years and really tried to get him to enlist him in the fight with me to do something differently and this opportunity came back in 2006 under our government, Mitt Romney, at the time to allocate some resources to starting the first Recovery High School. So, that’s what we did.