Substance Use Disorder and High School Graduation Rates

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMSHA) in a 2017 Short Report 12th grade aged youths that had dropped out of high school were more likely to be struggling with a Substance Use Disorder than youths that were still enrolled in high school. SAMSHA doesn’t claim to know which came first; the Substance Use Disorder or the drop out. What they can identify is a correlation between struggling with SUDs and not being able to complete a High School Degree. 

Additionally, the NH Department of Education reported that in 2019, while NH graduation rates overall are good compared to the national average (high school graduation rates in NH were 91% in 2019 compared to a national average of 88%), disadvantaged groups have lower rates of high school graduation. These groups are the same groups that have a higher risk for Substance Use Disorder. Groups like; lower income students (81% graduation rate in NH), racial minorities (86.29% Black or African American graduation rate in NH), and homeless students (66.84% graduation rates in NH). Again, we can’t claim a causation but we can clearly see a pattern of correlation between being a member of a disadvantaged group and completing a high school education.

In our society, and indeed in the state of NH, inequalities that are correlated with a lower quality of life; like suffering from a Substance Use Disorder or not completing a High School Degree; disproportionately affect the same groups. 

Recovery Brings Opportunity

Because of the previously discussed correlation between struggling with SUDs and not completing High School for some individuals who are pursuing recovery one of the goals of recovery may be to complete the High School Equivalency Test or their High School Diploma. By completing one of these an individual raises their potential quality of life by putting themselves on equal footing with their peers who did graduate High School. It also opens doors to higher education which a person in recovery may be ready to start thinking about now that they have regained control of their life from SUDs.

But How??

Figuring out how to reach these goals can be a goal in itself. In this post we will lay out some of the resources and services available in the Souhegan Valley and in NH for preparing for the HiSET, taking the HiSET or completing a High School Diploma. 


What was previously known as the GED is now called the High School Equivalency Test or HiSET. The test consists of 5 subjects; writing, math, science, social studies and reading. All together it should take 7 hours and 5 minutes to complete but each subtest (each subject has its own test) can be completed in separate sessions. Each sub-test is scored on a scale of 0 to 20 and to pass an individual must score a total of 45 with no individual score being below an 8. Additionally, each individual must receive a minimum of 2 out of 6 on the essay portion of the writing subtest. Each candidate is allowed 2 retests in a calendar year. The NH Department of Higher Education lays out all these details and more on their website >>>

Preparing for the HiSET

Most of us haven’t thought about isosceles triangles or the Mayflower since well, High School, luckily there are plenty of HiSET prep resources available so anyone can brush up and walk into the testing facility feeling confident. 

The HiSET website provides connections to a ton of resources. Their Find an Adult Education Program Tool can locate in-person classroom style resources. Or they offer an array of Test Prep Materials. They even have a free HiSET practice test that allows you to take the test, review the correct answer to each question, assess your readiness, and get scored as you would for the actual test. Visit their site to explore these resources >>>

Nashua Adult Learning Center HiSET Prep

The Nashua Adult Learning Center (ALC) offers a ton of Education Opportunities! One of these is a comprehensive HiSET Prep program. This program offers individuals the ability to practice skills in the 5 subject areas of the HiSET Test with live assistance from instructors. During the 2021 school year this program is being offered both in person and over zoom making it incredibly accessible. The Nashua ALC has HiSET testing on site once a month so basically it’s an all inclusive package! Registration is required and being accepted now for the Fall HiSET Prep Program. Visit their site to learn more about what the Nashua ALC offers and how to register >>>

Hillsboro Adult Project LIFT

The Hillsboro public library provides an opportunity for HiSET preparation through their project LIFT. In this program individuals can receive one-on-one or small group instruction in any of the subjects on the HiSET. Learn more about their program here >>>

Goffstown HiSET Prep

Goffstown High School offers prep classes in Mathematics and Language Arts during each school semester. Learn more by visiting their site >>>

Adult Diploma Programs

Adult Diploma Programs can be used as a tool to prepare for the HiSET in a more advanced way or can be used to earn or complete a high school diploma by taking in person classes. The State of NH outlines requirements for an Adult Diploma Program that include 20 credits of coursework in several different areas. There are a few programs in the Souhegan Valley and nearby that offer Adult Diploma opportunities. 

ConVal Regional High School Adult Diploma Program

ConVal Regional High School in Peterborough NH hosts an Adult Diploma Program administered by Monadnock Community Education. Individuals are required to apply in order to join the program. Learn more here >>>

Nashua School District Adult Diploma Program

The Nashua School District offers a program similar to ConVals. Individuals can attend classes in order to earn high school credits to complete their diploma. The courses generally run one night per week for fifteen weeks from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. Learn more here >>>

Take the HiSET

There are more ways than you would think to take the HiSET. Much like other standardized testing you can go to a testing center and choose to take the HiSET on paper or on a computer. However, you can also take the HiSET from the comfort of your home. When taking the HiSET from home you are video recorded and test security is verified by a human proctor through the application ProctorU and you can stay in your pjs! To learn more about taking the HiSET remotely visit their site >>>

Test Centers 

Nashua Adult Learning Center
Computer and Paper Testing Available Learn More >>>

Goffstown High School
Computer and Paper Testing Available Learn More >>>

Visit the HiSET website to find more testing centers >>>


Clearly there are a ton of resources available in our community but figuring out how to navigate them or making time for them in your busy life can be a challenge. If you need further help finding the resources that work for you feel free to reach out to us at (603)554-8142 or

If you or someone you know is looking for resources for recovery from Substance Use Disorder Contact us now.

Contact ARCNH


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