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!

Karis Q&A Time

Karis Society is made up of many personalities and soulful people. From staff, through to participants, everyone contributes to the atmosphere of warmth, love, caring and empathy. This month we share a little more about our much-loved Karis Parenting Coordinator – Em.

Who are you, and what do you do for Karis? 

I have my Bachelor of Social Work and I am the Parenting Program Coordinator for Karis. I work with all the mothers in our program and either help them have their children returned to their care and/or help mother’s maintain their recovery so that their children can stay in their care, by creating a fluid, wholistic and ongoing recovery plan and providing access to parenting classes and other supports for their recovery journey.

What would you say to someone juggling the idea of joining Karis as a participant? 

Just do it! If it isn’t for you, you can leave whenever you choose, but at least give it a chance! You never know, it could save your life, or at least act as a lifejacket until you get ashore!

How can Kelowna locals get involved to further aid Karis’s goals?

Funding is huge as we are a non-profit organization and really want to give these women a real chance at sobriety and long-term recovery. Volunteer time or a talent to teach these women new ideas in order to help them develop more healthy coping mechanisms or even a business endeavour! Childminding is major way to help our mothers as having volunteers child-mind and watch the infants and toddlers so that the moms can attend all the recovery and parenting classes available to them.

Tell us something about Karis that not many people know? 

We have been around for more than 15 years and there are not near enough facilities like us in Canada! We need more! We are also locally owned and operated by the most amazing humans EVER! It is an honour and privilege to work for such a kind and generous organization that truly cares and is actively involved in supporting it’s employees and participants in the program! Thank you!!!

The Karis’s Parenting Program, supports expectant women and moms with babies with teachings and tools for parenting through recovery. The recovery-focused Parenting Program offers life skill development opportunities for women who are pregnant, parenting, or in process of having their children returned to their care. As a support-based program, by providing these opportunities, participants are able to confidently strive towards self-sufficiency and independence.

At Karis, we are stronger together, and this unity starts with the respect and support the staff show for eachother. 

The wonder of Recreational Therapy

Karis places a large importance on the health and wellness of our participants. We are always exploring new avenues, and are sure to make a difference in the productivity, and the quality of life our participants experience with us. We do this by fostering independence and an enjoyment of activities offered at Karis.

One of the most effective ways we have found to do this, is through recreational therapy. Spanning the cognitive, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and vocational domains, these activities actively boost individuals in each of these areas, through stimulating exercises such as yoga, dance, musical theatre, tai chi, art therapy, meditation and writing therapy.

Recreational therapy has many benefits to it outside of simply being a thoroughly good time. It emphasizes the improvement of motor skills, while also being effective in treating anxiety and depression. The community aspect of it encourages social engagement in a friendly way that deals with isolation head on by proving to be a supportive structure that participants can immerse themselves in. It also promotes and develops the skills required to unpack thoughts and emotions by fleshing out feelings. This is hugely beneficial when it comes to successful recovery. All these skills are useful tools which greatly contribute to developing and growing after what is sometimes years of substance abuse.

It is all thanks to our supportive and kind Kelowna community. We have numerous, selfless, kind and passionate volunteers who come in to run these recreational therapy classes on our behalf. It is because of them that we are able to provide such stimulating experiences for our participants. You can find us running these events three afternoons a week, filled with good vibes and hearty laughter. It truly is the epitome of community. 

We’d love to hear from interested volunteers, and encourage you to reach out to us at It is through your selfless contributions that we have the privilege of witnessing the hugely beneficial results that your guided activities bring to the lives of our participants.

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.  

Volunteers are our rock

We couldn’t do what we do without them.

Karis is built on many things. It’s built on hope, dedication, resilience, bravery, and love. It’s also built on a solid foundation of individuals that come in many forms. One just needs to walk around Karis to witness the incredible staff, participants, and volunteers that give this home (because that is what it is) its uniquely warm, loving energy.

It goes without saying that our participants are some of the strongest women we know. It takes an immense amount of courage to seek help and to love yourself enough to want change not just for oneself, but in many instances, for one’s children too. To stick your head above the dense, overwhelming haze of addiction and want to better yourself and your situation is indeed courageous. 

However, even the bravest of participants needs the love and dedication of our volunteers. Karis is blessed with a bustle of gallant volunteers doing their thing in, around, and for the organization. With broad smiles and big hearts, they selflessly go about changing lives through their contributions. We are eternally grateful.

Quotes from just some of our many volunteers:

“Sometimes, you win. Sometimes you learn.” – Char, Karis sparkle-maker.

Char… one of our amazing volunteers

Char has been a part of our Karis community for as long as we can remember.  Many have met her and shared in the many jokes she loves to tell.  When the pandemic hit, Karis had to close doors to so many amazing volunteers and friends, losing out on the many services our generous community provided both in class and around the building. As the months progressed, Karis needed to step up our cleaning and sanitization to keep in line with pandemic regulations and ever-changing protocols.  Char stepped in, and she has been a lifesaver!

“Volunteering at Karis Support Society allows me to witness the hope, pride, and confidence the participating women gain through the guidance and compassion of the dedicated staff.” – Colleen, much loved Karis volunteer.

“I love volunteering at Karis. I love the absolute sincere, heartfelt dedication the staff feels for the women who live there. I love the bravery, strength, and determination of the women. They make me feel empowered just by being around them and knowing the challenges they have and facing. When I teach an exercise class, they make me feel that I’m making a difference. When I leave Karis, I feel joyful and empowered. I feel proud to know these brave warriors.” – Alyson, exercise class volunteer.

To each and every one of our volunteers, thank you from all of us at Karis Support Society.