HOUSTON – A tough conversation to have during what can be a tough time of year for some: Recovery for teens experiencing substance use disorders. Houston is filled with resources, many free, to help families struggling.
One Katy retired educator in recovery has made it her mission to help families in need.
Judy Bou Kheir founded Katy Area Recovery Education (KARE), an organization that helps teens and families find recovery resources while providing sober social events.
“We know the uptick in cases in at least OD deaths has grown close by 30% for 2020. We saw that in national trends, you can extrapolate that information how it is affecting adolescents as well,” Explained Bou Kheir.
The work KARE does is geared to parents and guardians of teenagers with substance use disorders.
For Chance Walters, it was the 9th grade when life took a turn.
“He had been athlete, straight-A student and everything just started nose-diving. My son’s attitude changed from someone who was very engaged and enthusiastic to someone who didn’t care much about sports, grades, family functions. All the things he thrived in and participated in and did so well in were just evaporating around him. We were just lost as parents. That was the beginning of a long journey,” said Brett Walters, Chance’s father.
Brett had an epiphany years later when he was talking with a counselor.
“‘Hey, your son has substance use disorder,’” Brett said.
“I think those around me knew before I did, but when I was 18 and inpatient treatment I was like ‘Wow, this is not where I saw myself.’ And it really was awakening.” explained Chance, who is now 25. “I have been in the Houston Katy Recovery community since I was 17 years old.”
Chance is not alone. Bou Kheir said it was through her treatment in recovery she met many teens just like Chance.
“I met a teen who was also on her path getting sober and she asked me to mentor her and so at her one year sober anniversary, I had all these teens in recovery over at my house, and since I was a professional educator, I was asking them ‘so what could teachers or staff do on campus?’” explained Bou Kheir. “And I just got the bright idea after that meeting, ‘I know what I will do!’ I will go back to school, and I will become a school counselor and I will save all the children in my district, right? And it didn’t actually turn out that way.”
Bou Kheir instead founded KARE.
“Looking back, there were probably clues I was missing because that was just not the story I wanted for my son,” said Brett.
KARE is hosting a free virtual teen recovery fair on Saturday, December 4 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The link is LIVE.KATYRECOVERY.COM. Attendees will hear from experts from The Council on Recovery Houston, the Center for Success and Independence, different inpatient and outpatient services, alternative peer groups, teen and family services, folks from Palmer Drug Abuse Program, and even a sober high-school academy and many more experts in teen recovery.
Next Saturday, KARE is hosting its annual bonfire event. For more information on their sober social events, go to https://katyrecovery.com/.