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From Stu­dent to Leader: A SMART Recov­ery Journey

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 Daryl

Jesus (left) and Daryl (right), KYC SMART Recovery leaders

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

Jesus Quote

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

Jesus Quote 2

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 2242297456 or recoveryresources@​kennethyoung.​org.

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