Inside the brain. What happens when you take drugs?

Let’s start with how it feels: euphoric.

A person becomes motivated to repeat an activity due to a flood of the chemical messenger ‘dopamine’ to the brain. Dopamine provides a feeling of elation, love, and escape from reality. The world seems rosier and for a while troubles waft away. However, euphoric surge ultimately draws back like a wave and crashes on the shore, fading away along with its energy and magnificence.

It does not matter who we are. We are all human and all susceptible to addiction, because life isn’t a straight line. It moves up and it moves down, the only thing that may vary is to what degree. For those that have suffered abuse the down is far more severe that someone just having a bad day at the office. Often this abuse can stem from childhood, sometimes its domestic abuse or a violent event that can spark a downward spiral. Many of the women that Karis has cared for over the years have experienced some form of abuse. 

There are other factors that can spark crashes and the need for that release, that euphoria, that need to escape what feels like an escapable reality:


It is believed by some that genetics can contribute to some people’s battle with addiction. Mental disorders, for example, can make some more susceptible to depression or bi-polar disorder and the escape is often drugs or alcohol.


Besides abuse, things like early exposure to drugs, extreme stress, lack of parental love or guidance can contribute to addiction later on in life. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and can be pressured into experimenting before their brains have developed clear judgement and decision-making.

Karis recognises all these factors, and that is exactly why the society was formed – to help. Not to judge. We understand that addiction is a disease, and one that nobody willing signs up for. No one does drugs or drinks excessively because they want to experience the long-term negative effects that this can create by damaging the brain chemical systems and circuits. They do it because it creates a high, and a high is often mistaken for joy in the short-term. We understand. We are here for you.

The journey won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be worth it in every way. You can do it. Yes – YOU. If you or someone you know is fighting addiction, apply to Karis and let’s get the conversation started. It’ll be the bravest thing you’ve ever done, and it’s important to know you aren’t giving up anything, it’s what you’re gaining – your life!

Glimpses into a day in the life at Karis

Recovery and healing happen in many ways at Karis. It doesn’t simply come about by daily class and program alone. At times the process of healing and recovery may not seem obvious at all, but it’s at play in all that we do. Art, exercise and celebrations are all at the heart of holistic healing. 

We have a multi-faceted approach that requires commitment from all involved. Some elements are more structured in nature, while others just feel like good old fun, serenity and joy.  

Art is part of our tapestry. The artworks that adorn the walls of Karis are not only pops of colour, they are pops of new-found confidence and allow a safe space for self-expression. When one is creating art, there are numerous positive forces at play. Our participants get to be playful again, to feel free and escape in a positive, productive and rewarding way. Art is never right or wrong. It just IS. 

The events at Karis are more commonly referred to as celebrations. Because healing is a celebration. Participants get to attend heartwarming baby showers with gifts and balloons, participate in Easter egg hunts, delicious Christmas lunches and the likes of the annual Nuit En Blanc. There is always a new celebration to look forward to.

The Dream Project is a constant within the Karis program. Participants are introduced and exposed to a variety of career opportunities. It has the further goal of helping the women of Karis rediscover their neglected dreams and interests. Help, hope and sustainable self-sufficiency are at the cornerstone of this phenomenal project.

Exercise is a further must-do at Karis. Physical wellness brings not just health benefits, but also helps to foster a positive self-image. Mentally, exercise is a space to escape negative thought patterns, create a commitment mentality, community and grit. Plus it brings with it natural feel-good endorphins. Our wonderful volunteers offer all sorts of exercise, from cardio to zen-like yoga sessions.

A day in the life at Karis is a sparkle of many diverse things. All of which bring healing, love and joy. We hope you enjoyed just a brief look into a day in our lives.

Raising hope in 2021

We are excited to announce that together with NOW Canada, Karis Support Society has been chosen as joint beneficiary of the annual TREE OF HOPE campaign for 2021.

The giant led-lit Christmas tree is erected each year in the Landmark District, Kelowna and stands as a beacon of hope and goodwill in our community.  It is more than just a holiday symbol. It is also an opportunity to usher in a season of compassion, generosity, and gratitude, all while educating ourselves on issues that face our community and charities that exist to address them. We call this initiative within the celebration, Raising Hope.

In partnership with the Landmark District, TD Canada Trust, and Stober Family Foundation, RAISING HOPE 2021 seeks to highlight, address, and elevate the conversation of “WOMEN AT RISK’.

Together the work of NOW Canada and Karis is focussed on supporting women to transition from a life of addiction, abuse, exploitation and mental health challenges to a life in long-term recovery and self-efficiency. 

This year highlights the importance of supporting local. It has been a challenging year for many in our community, we saw more vulnerable women, youth and children need our programs than ever before. 

Thanks to the TREE OF HOPE, the impact of every dollar donated will be DOUBLED up to $100,000! If you are planning to give this year, please give local. The donations received through the TREE OF HOPE will become an invaluable investment, #RaisingHope for vulnerable women and children in our community.

Change of season brings reflection

We love where we live. Kelowna has a unique richness that can be referenced in numerous ways. There is a richness of beauty with every change of season, as mother nature treats us to new visual delights. As Fall has arrived, we have admired how the leaves change from vibrant shades of green to warm hues of yellow and orange. Our immediate surroundings are rich with mountains, lakes, and pristine beaches – they are settings that aid the healing process. However, the richest thing about Kelowna is the immense sense of warmth and community. Time and time again, we witness the residents of Kelowna band together not just in the good times but in the challenging times too. At Karis, we feel privileged to experience this coming together of people firsthand. 

Our blessings are multifaceted, and as the season changes, we reflect even more closely on what these blessings are. 

Our volunteers. 

Karis’s volunteers come in many forms. From businesses to school goers to retired folks, all our volunteers give of themselves selflessly and with an infectious positivity of spirit. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Thank you for bringing even more smiles and laughter to our Karis home – we are forever grateful.

Our participants.

We are honoured to witness healing and transformation in motion. Our participants are some of the bravest, strongest, and committed women we have ever met. They show us that anything is possible, even in the face of some of the most significant adversity. They are the proof that silver linings do exist. What a privilege it is to be part of their journeys. 

Our donors.

Without our donors, Karis would not be able to do the work it does. Our donors give generously and with so much heart. Our gratitude for their life-changing impact goes beyond words.

Our staff.

We are like a family. A community of like-minded people who are driven to do the same thing: transform the lives of our participants. This is done with big hearts, generous souls, and an unwavering commitment to the support of the women in our program. 

We look forward to what this next season brings. We have no doubt it will be filled with joy and even further blessings for us to reflect on in the months ahead.  

Karis Wins Civic Award


Karis Support Society is very honoured to announce our acceptance of the Volunteer Organization of the Year Award last night at Kelowna Civic & Community Awards Gala. Check out the article that Castanet wrote about this event.

Thank you to your volunteer Barbara Februar for nominating us as well as Liz at NOW Canada for mentoring us through the length nomination process and application. And thank you to all of our volunteers who are so willingly give their time to the women (a few men) and families that call Karis home.
Thank you.