A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Series underscores that addiction is an illness, and teen addicts should be treated with firm gentleness without being enabled so that they can empower themselves through recovery. Abuse, prevalence of opioids, and lack of good mental health treatment are all discussed as some reasons behind rise in teen addiction.
Positive Role Models
Michelle Lipinski and rest of faculty care about their students, are focused on supporting and helping without being judgmental or enabling teens' behavior. Some faculty are also in recovery, while others are directly impacted by addiction of family and friends. Most students are supportive of one another.
Violence & Scariness
Cutting, suicide, other self-harm are discussed. Sexual violence is referenced. Some students end up incarcerated.
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Curses are bleeped.
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Products & Purchases
Northshore High School is prominently featured. iPhones are visible.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The major theme is addiction recovery. Abuse of drugs, ranging from marijuana to opioids, and alcohol is discussed. Students are sometimes visibly high. Drug tests are administered. Cigarette smoking is visible.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 16 and Recovering, an installment of MTV's 16 and Pregnant franchise, features teens at a high school designed for kids struggling with addiction. It offers a very real and important look at what teen addiction is like, and includes conversations about the frequency of pre-adolescent drug use, mental illness, bullying, self-harm, and abuse. Students are sometimes shown drunk or high but are always surrounded by responsible mentors and caregivers. Any strong language is bleeped. The stories can be harrowing, but watching it with your teens can provide a solid foundation for discussing drug use, addiction, and related topics with them. It can also be a good way to introduce the subject to younger viewers.
Is It Any Good?
This harrowing but honest series shows how one school seeks to help teen addicts by providing them a place where they can learn and get recovery support without being judged. While Northshore High is an accredited school, it also provides some of the services of a rehabilitation center, including mandatory alcohol and drug testing, teaching restorative practices, and openly addressing students' addictions and recovery. Documenting these efforts is also a way of pointing to the broader societal problems that make such an institution necessary, including the lack of overall mental health resources and care, and the ongoing, and extremely pervasive, opioid crisis. Society's overall negative and non-proactive approach to helping teen addicts is also underscored.
Like most installments of the 16 and franchise, it's voyeuristic and heavily edited. But what makes 16 and Recovering worth the watch are the painful truths it reveals about addiction and children. Many teens admit that their alcohol and drug use started years before they entered high school. Despite the support of the faculty and their families, students who are sober for months inevitably relapse, often due to self-medicating for conditions like depression and anxiety. The toll it takes on their families is highlighted, and there are no guarantees of happy endings. These messages are worth paying attention to, and learning from, to help kids who are struggling with addiction, and to help encourage younger generations to choose a different path.
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