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Our goal is to divert teens from developing addictions: Judson Kim Bemis (of Gobi Support Inc.) said while interacting with The Silicon Review


“We are the first organization to provide an early intervention program to teens on their phones.”

Gobi Support Inc. is a comprehensive educational program with an accessible, web-based application. It’s dedicated to helping middle and high school teens and their families rethink their relationship with drugs and alcohol. Gobi is not a treatment program or intended to be a substitute for treatment; it offers a digital platform that provides a self-administered guide to promote self-examination and a healthy lifestyle while building better communications within families. Gobi serves teens and their families nationwide.

Gobi Support was founded in 2013.

The Silicon Review reached out to Judson (Kim) Bemis, the founder and Executive Director of Gobi Support, Inc, here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

Q. Why was Gobi Support Inc. born? What are the market pain points founders wanted to address through the inception of the company?

Gobi Support was founded almost a decade ago when I was approached by an organization that tried to provide continuing care programs for teens that had completed treatment. That organization was being contacted by parents who had just discovered their teens were using drugs or alcohol and did not know what to do. Because of my background as an entrepreneur in software and having worked for the Hazelden Foundation, we began working on the Gobi project as an early intervention program to help parents with teens who were experimenting with substance misuse. Fast forward to today, we have come a long way. Our programs are proven, private, HIPAA-compliant and used by clinical mental health professionals to support parents and teens.

Put simply, our goal is to divert teens from developing addictions.

Q. What approach does Gobi Support take to help teens (and their families) recover from alcohol and drug addiction?

We do not provide services to families with teens who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Instead, we head off potential addiction issues in adolescents. Initially, during our content creation process, we relied on clinical work that was done at the University of Minnesota, and we used the best practices of CBT, motivational interviewing, and social-emotional learning theory. Our parent program was created based on work we did with an organization that educates parents on adolescent substance misuse.

Given the extensive news coverage on adolescent mental health and the number of inquiries we received where parents told us their teens were using substances to manage their mental health, we have added two tracks; one each for anxiety and depression. These tracks are specifically designed to address why the use of substances is not a good idea to manage  their mental health. We are finding these new tracks to be highly successful in helping teens rethink their approach to managing their mental health.

Q. What can you tell us about the Gobi digital platform, and how does it help build better communication within families?

We are the first organization to provide an early intervention program to teens on their phones. But the key to better communication with families has been the assignments that parents and teens perform, and most importantly, the scripted walks that we schedule for them to take.

Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges teens and their families faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?

Since we are talking about teens and their families, I cannot talk about specific success stories other than to speak to the metrics of what we have been able to accomplish. To date, we have served almost 1500 families. Of the teens associated with Gobi, 65% complete their program, of that group 70% report they will reduce or eliminate their substance use, and 50% report that the program increased their motivation to change. Teens also reported that they practiced new ways to manage stress and take care of themselves, got into fewer arguments with their parents, and noticed a change in how their parents were talking to them. Parents reported that they developed a better understanding of why their child became an addict in the first place. They also reported that their relationship with their child grew. And they were better able to manage the negative reactions they had toward their teen.

I can supply one quote from a parent: Kristen Q.

“My daughter & I are doing this together. I cannot believe the open conversations we are having. Even if she rolls her eyes before we talk, this program has completely changed the tone & tenor of our discussions about substance use. Every middle school & high school should have your program in place. It’s invaluable. My parenting has shifted because of the daily messages. And my perspective has shifted too. So glad my

friend mentioned Gobi Support.”Kristen Q.

Q. How do you see Gobi Support changing in five years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

While we have been successfully dealing with families, we think that there is a potential for a clinical application for the use of the Gobi program. Recently, we became HIPAA compliant and have built a dashboard suitable for school counselors, social workers, and therapists. Teens are reluctant to talk to adults about their substance use, but they are remarkably open online. We believe that Gobi could be an excellent door opener for mental health professionals to make a difference on a wider scale.

Soon, we would like to see Gobi employ Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to create customized intervention programs for teens. We believe that a boy in New York smoking marijuana should have a different intervention than a girl who is drinking alcohol and lives in Lubbock, Texas.

Judson (Kim) Bemis | Founder & Executive Director

Judson (Kim) Bemis is the founder and Executive Director of Gobi Support, Inc. His business career began in 1985 with Bemis Company and since then he has spent most of his time and energy as an entrepreneur looking for new technological solutions to business problems. He began his work in the field of addiction recovery in 2005, first as the National Director of Development for the Hazelden Foundation and then as the Executive Director of Hazelden’s online business opportunities. Mr. Bemis founded Outsell, Inc., a digital marketing company for the auto industry, and Clere Consulting, which focused on interventions and case management for families of wealth. He has served on over a dozen for-profit and nonprofit boards. He currently serves as the co-Chair of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Minnesota. 

“Soon, we would like to see Gobi employ Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to create customized intervention programs for teens.”

“Our programs are proven, private, HIPAA-compliant and used by clinical mental health professionals to support parents and teens.”