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From Fentanyl to Freedom: Personal Tales from Recovery High School

In the latest heartening episode of "King County Recovery Conversations," our host Heather Venegas delves into the inspirational realm of recovery education alongside a trio of remarkable guests: Seth Welch, a wisdom-rich drug and alcohol counselor, and two resilient students, Aiden and Karis, from the Interagency Queen Anne Recovery High School.

Seattle’s only sober public high school, the Interagency Queen Anne Recovery High School, is not merely an educational institution. It is a beacon of hope, a fortress of support, and a cultivator of future leaders for teens wrestling with the chains of addiction. Episode 19, "From Fentanyl to Freedom: Personal Tales from Recovery High School," explores the profound impact this Recovery High School has had on the lives of its students and the greater King County community.

Seth Welch brings a unique perspective to the episode, having personally experienced the struggles with substance use during his time at Nathan Hill High School and beyond. His journey to sobriety, paved through a wilderness program and sustained by an empowered community found in twelve-step meetings, lends a profound authenticity to his work as a counselor. Seth's formative years intersect with the story of a personal hero, friend and famous peer, Ben Haggerty—better known as Macklemore—who advocated for sobriety and even intervened to help Seth on his path to recovery. A testament to the power of community, Macklemore's continued financial support and ambassadorship in the recovery sphere underscore the episode's overarching theme: no one recovers alone.

Aiden’s courage shines through as he recounts his own history as a daily fentanyl user. His transformation, catalyzed by the Interagency Recovery High School, has seen him build healthier relationships and revel in nearly two years of sobriety. He stands as a beacon of what can be achieved through the supportive environment offered by the school.

Karis, young but mighty, shares an equally riveting narrative. Drug use that began at an early age was exacerbated by isolation during the pandemic, creating a harrowing cycle of addiction and trauma. Her multiple stints in hospitals and rehab facilities paint a stark picture of the relentless grip of substance abuse. But her triumph, beginning in November 2021 and propelled by her dedication to a structured program, resonates with hope. Today, her focus on graduating and embarking into adulthood is interwoven with her commitment to aiding youth in recovery.

This episode is rife with tales of redemption, but it also casts light on the larger issue at play: the startlingly high relapse rates among youths post-treatment and subpar graduation rates among students who have undergone substance use treatment. Recovery High Schools, akin to the Oregon state-funded model, offer an innovative solution, creating a culture where sobriety isn't just a possibility—it's the norm.

Moreover, "From Fentanyl to Freedom: Personal Tales from Recovery High School" extends an invitation to listeners, urging community members and stakeholders to acknowledge the urgency of the situation. Our host Heather Venegas reminds us that it's critical to invest in recovery schools, alternative peer groups, and after-school programs, not just for the direct benefit they bring to youths like Aiden and Karis but also for the ripple effect they have on our communities.

For those eager to learn more about the movement, both the Interagency Academy and the Interagency Recovery High School are available as resources online and on Facebook. The Washington Recovery Helpline remains a 24-hour beacon for those seeking guidance and support.

This episode stands as a powerful reminder that the path to recovery is paved with community, connection, and the unwavering belief that everyone deserves a chance to forge a life of purpose and fulfillment beyond addiction's shadow.

To dive into these powerful stories of hope and change, listen to From Fentanyl to Freedom: Personal Tales from Recovery High School. Join us in applauding these voices of change, and let's continue the conversation to foster recovery and resilience in our youth.

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