When you download an app, you’re never quite sure what you’ll get, but for those in recovery, the right sober apps provide invaluable support and help.
Sobriety apps, sober chat rooms, and other online sobriety resources are some of the ways people recovering from substance use disorder are keeping in touch. These online tools can be a lifeline to people living in rural areas and those isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apps Are Supplemental
The most important thing to remember is that sobriety apps and online resources help people in recovery. They do not replace treatment centers.
While many of these apps are handy, they are just one small piece of the recovery effort. They are useful for tracking days in sobriety, how much money is saved by not using drugs and tips for healthy living,
Others are sober chat apps, where people with substance abuse disorder can share their experiences and possibly help a fellow recoveree through rough patches.
Online support groups offer convenience and flexibility, but should not replace face-to-face support groups.
Yes, There’s An App For That
These days, it seems like there is a smartphone app for everything. So, it’s not surprising that apps have made their way into the world of alcohol and drug recovery.
Just search your Apple Store or Google Play Store, and you will find many sobriety apps. But as anyone with experience with any app knows, not all apps are created equal, and some are downright awful.
Some of these sober apps solely cater to women, while others may include family and friends. Researchers are looking into whether these apps provide any useful information or meaningful help.
Taking a look at overall health apps, one group of researchers examined apps’ effectiveness in achieving health-related behavior changes. In 12 studies, “[s]elf-monitoring was the most common behavior change technique applied.”
But what about sober apps? In an article in the Journal of Addictive Diseases Addiction, researchers looked at 87 smartphone recovery apps found on the Google Play Store. The apps were assessed by user reviews, functions, focus, and user experiences.
Content analysis revealed that apps typically provided information on recovery, as well as content to enhance motivation, promote social support and tools to monitor progress. App users commented that the apps helped to inform them, keep them focused, inspire them and connect them with other people and groups.
If you’re interested in trying out some recovery apps, make sure to look at the reviews. They can offer helpful information on whether an app does what it promises, crashes are full of ads, or has hidden costs. If you’re still confused, talk to our experts at Addiction Care Treatment Program to get recommendations for helpful sober apps.
Virtual Recovery Spaces
Sobriety apps generally provide tips and tools to maintain recovery. But you can’t always use the app to reach out to form a virtual support network through sober chat rooms. Methods of virtual communication among recovering addicts have been in the spotlight since COVID-19 changed the way people gather — or instead don’t gather — to communicate. However, sober chat rooms are hardly new.
The American Psychological Association (APA) researchers lay out variations of sober chat rooms. They also look at who they benefit.
Online meetings are through various computer-mediated communication technologies such as email, chat, text, audio/video meetings, discussion forums, websites, and telephone conference calls.
Virtual sobriety meetings and groups also offer support 24/7 every day of the year. The advantage is that you don’t have to wait for a set date or times of face-to-face meetings. This gives your schedule flexibility. More importantly, you can always find support when you are triggered and tempted to use drugs again.
While clinicians work to tear down the stigma the public places on substance use disorder, some patients still have to overcome their public or personal embarrassment through their association with recovery groups. Alcoholics Anonymous believes such shame among recovery users prevents an untold number of them from attending face-to-face (F2F) meetings.
Regardless of the program or group, researchers say an online platform allows recovering users to stay at home and be more comfortable participating in anonymity. Researchers add that an online option also makes sense for individuals to participate in recovery groups because they are either unwilling or unable to attend meetings IRL (in real life).
This study may mean bad news for face-to-face support groups. The researchers write, “Interestingly, participants reported both a) that they lied more about their sobriety success and b) that they were more likely to be drunk or high while participating in F2F sobriety support than while using online support.”
People Need People
The APA study also found a great paradox. According to the researchers, “while those in recovery found it easier to be honest while F2F, they were also more likely to lie about their time sober, and be drunk or high while seeking support F2F, compared with online.”
That, however, is not a great paradox. Instead, while F2F meeting attendees are more likely to lie about their sobriety or even be under the influence, they also tend to remain sober longer. “Greater participation in F2F sobriety support predicts a longer period sober, while greater participation in online sobriety support predicts less time sober.”
The researchers suggest that as younger people are more comfortable with sober chat rooms, sobriety resources, and sober chat apps begin to overtake older users, that situation may change.
But, long-time supporters of F2F are quick to remind people that the bedrock of recovery support groups is honesty — and it’s relatively easy to be dishonest from behind a computer screen or smartphone.
Critics of sober chat rooms cite “the inherent ability by users to control, edit, or manipulate online postings” as a major drawback. “Freedom from accountability … [and] temptation to give false testimony .. suggest dangerous threats to honesty in (online) sobriety support participation.”
In addition, it’s important to remember those sober apps, sober chat apps, and sobriety resources cannot and should never be a substitute for physical treatment. Rehab is not part of the virtual reality world. Your recovery is still unlikely to last without medical experts and trained rehab staff. Contact our trained staff to get the help that you need today.
That Human Touch
Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely.
Addiction treatment must help people with substance use disorder to:
- stop using drugs
- stay drug-free
- be productive in the family, at work, and in society
Several steps must be taken on the road to recovery such as:
- in-patient or outpatient rehabilitation
- group counseling
- medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
- evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
- long-term follow-up to prevent relapses
For some people with substance use disorder, outpatient treatment may be the best option. Outpatient treatment includes a variety of programs for patients who visit a behavioral health counselor on a regular schedule. Most of the programs involve both individual and group counseling, as well as:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the triggers and situations that could lead to relapse.
Multidimensional Family Therapy — addresses a range of family influences on drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve overall family functioning.
Motivational Interviewing — makes the most of people’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment.
Contingency Management — uses positive reinforcement in the form of rewards to encourage sobriety.
Inpatient or residential treatment is also very effective, especially for those with more severe drug problems and co-occurring disorders. Licensed residential treatment facilities offer 24-hour structured and intensive care, including safe housing and medical attention. There are a variety of residential treatment settings, including:
Therapeutic communities: highly structured programs in which patients remain at a residence, typically for six to 12 months. The entire community, including treatment staff and those in recovery, influence patients’ attitudes, understanding, and behaviors associated with drug use.
Short-term residential treatment: typically focuses on detoxification, as well as providing initial intensive counseling and preparation for treatment in a community-based setting.
Recovery housing: provides supervised, short-term housing for patients following other types of inpatient or residential treatment. Recovery housing can help patients transition back to independent life by helping them learn how to manage finances, seek employment, and connect to support services in the community.
It appears that social media does have a place in the recovery process. It can’t replace the hard work of in-person treatment, but it can reinforce sobriety among people with substance use disorder who have entered the recovery phase.
Sober apps can keep track of how many days you have gone without taking drugs and alcohol. If you find yourself in a stressful or triggered situation, a sober app can act as a much-needed self-affirmation tool.
If you are hit with an intense urge to use, a sober chat app allows you to message fellow recoverees who can get you through the moment. That same support is on other sobriety resources, such as virtual recovery groups. The advantage of these groups is that they are available 24/7 every day of the year.
But studies show there are some severe limitations to virtual recovery groups. For example, people may not be as honest about their conditions as they would be in face-to-face meetings. Also disturbing are studies that find periods of sobriety are shorter among those who exclusively use virtual support groups compared to those who mostly attend face-to-face meetings.
Virtual meetings can still be a lifeline for recovering addicts who can’t attend face-to-face meetings due to physical mobility problems or geographic isolation.
Nevertheless, sober apps and virtual support meetings cannot take the place of rehab facilities. Only at treatment centers can you detoxify; take part in individual, group, or family counseling; learn the skills you need to avoid or cope with triggers; modify your behavior, and be part of a therapeutic community. Above all, you will be under the watchful eyes of trained recovery experts.
To learn more about rehab and inpatient and outpatient options, reach out to our experts at the number below. Sooner is better when it comes to treatment for addiction, so call today!