What’s something you don’t usually tell people about yourself?
What’s more important, money or happiness?
What’s the most fun you’ve ever had, without using drugs or alcohol?
There’s more—the homework assignment:
Schedule a walk with your parents or guardians and tell them three things you like about them.
Perform one good deed, even if no one notices. What was your good deed? How did it make you feel?
Welcome to the novel approach of Gobi. It’s a new online drug and alcohol prevention program that we were inspired to develop because so many parents found their children using and couldn’t find a useful resource. Teaming up with academic specialists in addiction, education experts at sober schools and teens; we created Gobi.
What Kids Are Saying
To test the online concept and willingness of teens to engage, our team conducted a pilot evaluation for several months in 2015-2016.
The teens in the pilot provided insights about the program that is both revealing and empowering.
- 50% reported they are around drugs and alcohol 1 to 3 times a week and that their motivation to use is to relax or deal with stress, fewer than 10% self-report using 3-7 times a week.
- Peer pressure affects only a small percentage of respondents’ using behavior, yet approximately 70% of respondents reported they did things for another’s approval they did not want to, including “a mean prank,” “sleep at a boy’s house,” “smoke weed,” “drink whiskey.”
- The majority of teens—approximately 80%–trust their friends—but some cautiously so. “Only one person. I’ve tried trusting more, but then they backstab you.” “Yes. But I’m a very closed off person, so they don’t know EVERYTHING. Cause you never know what could happen.” And “yes, because they don’t use.”
- About 80 percent of respondents said happiness is more important than money. Their reasons: “money is something that comes and goes and not being happy is a waste of life.” “Because it’s the only thing money can’t buy.” Those who chose money say, “Money brings stability and without stability you can’t be happy.” “Everything depends on money.”
- Most reported meeting a weekly goal they set—such as keeping a room clean, doing homework, helping parents with housework—and described this accomplishment as, “felt good, and it helped my relationship with my family,” “felt stronger mentally and physically because I did not think I could do it,” and “happy when we didn’t fight as much.” Those who missed making their goals described the feeling as “Disappointed,” “I feel dumb that I missed it,” and “Unsatisfied. Disappointed.”
By the end of the program, most teens said that they were now thinking differently about their using and had either stopped or significantly cut back on their drinking, as one teen said “because it’s a matter of my life.” Both parents and teens reported that the walks had been very helpful in getting communication going again. Post-program survey comments attest to this, noting feeling “less stressed, more connected with my mom”, “My relationship with my family wasn’t as good as it is now, because I have been given tools to help communicate with my parents better.”
We are encouraged by these early results. They show teens are not only willing to change—but looking to change. They want help in doing so, and they find the online/mobile phone platform convenient, familiar, easy to use, and helpful. They trust it.
Most impressive to us was the fact that a great deal of honesty came through in the responses—and that’s key. As we know so well, trust and honesty are the foundation for getting teens and parents connected, and for getting right with the world. And there’s no better feeling than that.
About the Author:
Judson (Kim) Bemis is a Minneapolis entrepreneur, recovery advocate, and gratefully sober husband and parent for 28 years. More information on Gobi can be found at gobi.support.
Guest blog posts are welcome additions to the content on this website. Guest blog posts represent the views, opinions and experiences of the author and do not necessarily represent Our Young Addicts. Together, we provide parents and professionals with a variety of perspectives and information.
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