Caught: Now What
Jesus knows exactly what it’s like to be a young person caught with substances. “I got caught with a substance in school. I had the option to pay a $200 ticket, or to attend a group that addressed substance use concerns,” he shares. As a student, the cost of the ticket wasn’t something that he could manage. Many students and families are not able to take on such a steep unexpected expense. “I didn’t care about it in the moment,” he recounts, “but I signed up for the group.” Though he had no way of knowing at the time, the group would prove to be far more valuable than just avoiding the cost of the ticket.
Restorative SMART Recovery
Jesus was quickly connected with KYC’s Restorative SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery group, a program designed for students dealing with substance-misuse, addictive behaviors, or gang activity/affiliation. Participating in this group gives students the opportunity to understand their behavior and thoughts, how to cope with urges, how to live a balanced lifestyle. “Restorative SMART Recovery is a non-clinical, peer-led resource that helps students embrace a healthier way of thinking and behaving, which creates a thriving existence,” shares Daryl Pass, KYC’s Manger of Recovery Support Services. Daryl continues, “if we avoid addressing substance use and addictive behavior with consequences and instead address the core issues, that’s when we can actually help kids do better.”
An Unexpected Turning Point
“I started attending the group,” Jesus shares, “that’s when I met Daryl. He was talking about the program and he said, ‘I’m not here to prevent you from, I’m here to help you find out why you indulge in substance and embrace unhealthy behaviors,’ and that was really motivating for me. In the messages I’d heard about substance use before that point, the key word was always ‘STOP’, but, you won’t stop because someone else told you to, but this program was different.”
Jesus shares that his experience with substances was related to feeling anxious. “I had a tough family life that is better now, but I remember one meeting where Daryl asked me to tell him five things I liked about myself. With that experience, I started talking and opening up, and that made a huge difference for me,” Jesus shares. “Restorative SMART Recovery gives you motivation and time to care about yourself, think for yourself, and motivate yourself. This truly helped me so much, and I knew that I wanted to help people like Daryl was helping me, and that motivated me even more.”
Helping Others through Direct Experience
Today, Jesus is KYC’s Community Collaboration Project Associate, and he’s helping to lead the very program that he once attended, expanding the program to offer a group in Spanish. “Many kids are reluctant to participate in the group at first,” shares Daryl, “but some kids choose to keep coming back after they’ve completed their school-required program because it’s a safe space and they can share and appreciate the outlet. Jesus was one of the students who got really involved, and now he’s just doing a phenomenal job supporting families and students through their recovery.”
Jesus’s passion for helping students and families connect with the support they need to thrive is immediately evident the moment he starts talking about the Restorative SMART Recovery program. He is truly energized by the opportunity to help students find their own meaningful path to recovery, and the kindness, knowledge, and wisdom he so skillfully shares makes a big impact for group participants.
“I was there as a student, and now I can help them. I know how youth think and I can relate,” shares Jesus. “To me, communication is KEY. My advice to students is that if your parents are offering help, to take it! Don’t be stubborn – they are offering help because they care for you. Even if you don’t want to open up, if you at least accept the help, you’ll realize they’re there for you because they love and care for you,” a lesson Jesus learned for himself, and can now share with the students he so thoughtfully supports.
Through careful reflection of his family’s experience throughout his own recovery journey, Jesus is also extremely insightful for how to support parents through this program. “When parents first come in,” he shares, “they’re scared and don’t quite know how to handle it. I highly recommend that parents get advice from someone you trust who is a professional if you are struggling with how to help your student. Listen to them, and try to be there as much as you can. Patience is one of the key words – your child might not open up right away, but if you’re there for them, it will happen. Hear out your child. Don’t speak when they’re speaking – hear them out and don’t get angry. Talk with respect and love for them, and try to be open. Parents have the difficult job of making that conversation, and letting them know you want to help and that you’ll be there for them, rather than just telling them to stop,” Jesus advises.
Connecting with SMART Recovery and Substance Use Recovery Support
KYC’s Restorative SMART Recovery program is available for youth who are looking for support to reach their recovery goals. While some students are introduced to the program as an alternative to punitive consequences, this is not the only way to connect with this group. Youth can also begin, or choose to continue, attending this free group for as long as they like. SMART Recovery participants learn more about how to make healthy decisions that are right for them. They’ll also connect with caring individuals, like Jesus, who understand what it’s like to be in their shoes and who are passionate about helping them reach their personalized recovery goals. The Restorative SMART Recovery group for youth meets for one hour every Tuesday evening.
KYC also offers supports for parents who are either looking to learn the best ways to help support their student, or who may be looking to achieve their own goals in recovery, through additional SMART Recovery groups tailored to adults.
To learn more about KYC’s SMART Recovery groups, contact our recovery resource department at 224−229−7456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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