Parents' Guide to

16 and Recovering

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Harrowing docu shows realities of teen addiction, recovery.

TV MTV Reality TV 2020
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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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