I wanted to interview Kim Bemis because he has a new program that is meeting teenagers where they like to be, via their phones, and Gobi is working with families in an innovative way. Families need to know about Gobi and professionals do too. [HINT, HINT: if you are reading this blog and you work with teens on placement for schools or treatment, contact Kim.] The ideal family to use Gobi is parents who have questions or concerns about a child and potential substance use.
Kim created Gobi because, as a parent of four and a professional in the treatment industry, he and his wife could not find any programs that were a suitable consequence for one of their children who was experimenting with substance use. He saw an opportunity to create a prevention / intervention program that would reach kids where they lived, online and through their smartphones. YUP!
A little about Kim: he began working in the field of addiction recovery in 2005 as the Executive Director of New Business Development for the Hazelden Foundation. In 2010 he cofounded Clere Consulting LLC., focusing on interventions and long-term case management for families of wealth. He is also a professional entrepreneur, having started 5 companies and serving on the boards of a dozen local and national nonprofit organizations. And I believe most importantly, he is a person in recovery since 1988.
- Who does Gobi serve?
Gobi wants to serve parents or guardians who have become aware that their teenager is experimenting with substance use. According to the 2017 SAMHSA survey[i], in just the last 30 days, there have been 13 million 12 – 20-year olds who have used alcohol and/or drugs. Gobi is a free prevention/intervention program for teens and their parents or guardians that is delivered on their smartphones. Gobi was designed by a team of clinicians, parents and teens to help adolescents think about their behaviors and try to help them make better decisions around using drugs and alcohol. Gobi is an education-based program that provides a self-administered guide to promote self-examination and a healthy lifestyle
[i] 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA September, 2017
- Why is this approach significant and effective?
In a sprawling review of research on the neurobiology and treatment of addiction, the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health "Facing Addiction" stated these disheartening facts:
- that although addiction is preventable (and therefore intervention is the number 1 priority), 1 in 4[i] who began using before 18 become addicted;
- even though there are evidence-based school programs, less than 10% of schools use them;
- parents and counselors are desperate for help; in fact, on Google over the last 12 months, there have averaged 900,000 monthly searches for the terms associated with “teen drinking”.
And, as those of us who have had teenagers know, if you want to reach your teen - text them.
[i] The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, June 29, 2011
- How does it work? What would a family get out of the program?
Parents/guardians and teens register online and during the course of the program, teens are asked to complete assignments and respond to surveys via a link in a text message - teen activity is monitored by a licensed counselor. The program also includes occasional supportive text memes (often humorous and a bit irreverent).
Meanwhile, parents get their own emails centered on parent communication skills, recent research on teen substance use and adolescent development. Some assignments involve both parents and teens; e.g., several times during the program teens are asked to schedule a walk with their parents. Complete details of the program are available via www.gobi.support .
Our results are showing that teens engage in the content and report that they have rethought their approach to substance use. Families also report finding the program very easy to use, engaging and have used the walks to build a new level of communication.
- How much does Gobi cost?
Gobi Support is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Our program is free. We survive on donations from like-minded individuals and families that have found the program successful.
- Is there anything else that you want to add, that might have been missed?
Some people have asked why we chose the name Gobi. Gobi could be the desert, the driest place on earth, it could be “Go Be” a better person. We just wanted a name that wasn’t in any way related to rehab or recovery, so kids could feel comfortable doing the assignment in school or a coffee shop.
If you have any questions about Gobi for your family or for a client, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Kim Bemis created Gobi because, as a parent of four and a professional in the treatment industry, he and his wife could not find any programs that were a suitable consequence for one of their children who was experimenting with substance use. He saw an opportunity to create a prevention / intervention program that would reach kids where they lived, online and through their smartphones.