It’s funny how the absence of a thing sometimes causes a realization about it. For example, it never occurred to me that the majority of my social activities and functions centered around a) bars, b) drinking, and c) drinking in bars, until I wasn’t drinking. And trying to figure out how to maintain relationships and still have fun without imbibing was awkward new ground for a while.
Now, I myself am not in recovery—alcohol triggers my migraines—but I’ve been able to bond with my clean and/or sober friends on a whole new level, and I have incredible respect for their efforts to stay on a healthy path in a culture that can seem overwhelmingly focused on alcohol. (And I’m grateful to them for helping with this story!)
If you’re new to recovery and looking for resources, reach for your smartphone and see if any of the following apps can give you an assist. Remember: An app is just software, and it alone can do only so much. If you’re looking to get clean or if you need help, please contact the organizations below. Also keep in mind other types of apps that, while not recovery focused, can still help: Check out positive-thinking tools, daily meditations, or motivational-quotes apps such as Just for Today, and consider an app that will encourage you to get exercise, like Moves.
- Find Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings here, or call Alcoholics Anonymous World Services at 212/870-3400.
- Find Narcotics Anonymous Meetings here, or call the Narcotics Anonymous general questions and information line at 818/773-9999 ext. 771.
Offers: Meeting finder, recovery calculator, meditations/inspiration
Although it’s heavily connected to the OneHealth Solutions brand, the OneHealth Meeting Finder app offers a few key features. Most notable is the meeting finder itself, which covers over a dozen programs across the United States and can add meetings to your iCal or share them via text and email.
After you enter your location, program, and recovery clock (optional), the home screen displays your time in recovery, plus Meetings, Profile, and Daily Meditations buttons. In the extensive meetings list, each result has the date, time, location, and type of meeting (such as “Discussion” or “Women Only”). You can filter and favorite results, and show them on a map.
It’s too bad the app lacks a calendar, or any support feature such as a shortcut to calling a sponsor. Still, the star feature here is the meeting finder, and everything else is just gravy.
Anonymous Sober Chat for AA—iOS (free)
Offers: Chat support
Although I understand the idea of having a sober-chat app, where alcoholics and addicts can ask questions, discuss personal issues, and share solutions, Anonymous Sober Chat for AA seems more focused on the group-messaging portion of the app.
There’s honestly not a lot to identify this app as one for people in recovery: Once you enter a first name and last initial, you tap a green Start Chatting With Others button that takes you to a homepage where all the chats are organized in an almost bloglike fashion.
The chat rooms are represented by pictures and titles that range from helpful to somewhat unrelated. For example, in between gatherings such as “Daily Reflection Group” and “Narcotics Anonymous Members” are options like “Unicorns and Rainbows” or “Word Porn.” Likewise, the conversations inside tend to stream all over the place.
This app might be useful if you need a place to organize a private message group, or if you’re looking to chat with other people in recovery at all hours. But like OneHealth Meeting Finder, it’s pretty focused, so you won’t find much else here—no readings from the Big Book, no panic button to call your sponsor, no meeting finder.
Offers: Sober social network
An app with a clever name that purports to be a location-based social network for sober folks looking to find people near them, Rebos seems like just another excuse for a date app. Similar to the above apps, it puts little to no focus on sobriety or steps.
Once you create your profile—wherein the only mention of recovery is a single entry for Sober Motivation—you can invite friends, chat, and send photos. Rebos uses your location to find the sober and/or clean people in your neighborhood.
However, as with a lot of barely known apps, there aren’t a lot of people using Rebos. Most of the results I got were for “neighbors” over 200 miles away, which is prohibitively far to connect with someone for a movie and a conversation about how awesome it is not to wake up hungover anymore. It’s a free app, and I still don’t think it’s worth the money.
Friend of Bill—iOS ($1)
Offers: Sobriety counter, motivational slogans, sponsor calling
A simple sobriety counter, Friend of Bill asks for your name, the approximate date and time of your last drink, and your sponsor’s number. Once you’ve entered that, the app displays a single gray screen showing the years, months, days, hours, and minutes you’ve been sober, along with a simple motivational quote.
The only other thing that Friend of Bill offers is a tiny icon of a telephone in the bottom-left corner of the screen—tap it to call your sponsor.
That’s it—there’s nothing more to the app than that. But if you’re looking for a streamlined sobriety counter, Bill won’t steer you wrong. Here’s hoping that just seeing how far you’ve come is sufficient motivation to stay on the wagon one more day.
I Am Sober—iOS ($2)
Offers: Sobriety calculator, milestone notifications, savings calculator
Another simply styled sobriety calculator, I Am Sober opens to a soft blue screen requesting your sobriety start date, the estimated amount that you used to spend on alcohol each day, and the time you’d like to receive notifications.
It then populates the default screen, the sober counter, with a large blue circle that announces how many days you’ve been sober. Below that, you see the number of days until your next milestone.
The bottom navigation section offers the remaining features: A savings calculator estimates how much you’ve saved by not drinking, the milestones tab features unlocked achievements in time, and the settings allow you to update or change your fields.
The app has a pretty design, so it’s unfortunate that this tool doesn’t do a little more—I would have loved to see a meeting finder and a link to call a sponsor.
Offers: Sobriety calculator, meeting finder, Big Book
A more comprehensive offering can be found in the 12 Steps AA Companion, which is cleanly organized into sections for the Big Book (and notes), a sobriety calculator, and a contacts/meeting finder tab.
Once you’ve entered your sobriety date, every time the app opens it greets you with a counter that displays how many years, months, days, and hours you’ve been sober. Tapping the screen flips the view to display the first pages of the Big Book—and here the 12 Steps app really shines.
Not only are the Big Book’s chapters nicely organized so you can jump between chapters, sections, or pages easily, but switching between notes and the book itself is extremely simple and fluid, so you can take notes for particular sections and then flip right back to where you left off.
Additionally, the contacts section will help you find meetings in your area. Although in my tests this app returned fewer meetings than the OneHealth Meeting Finder app did, adding missing meetings that you know about to the list is easy enough. I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more detail about each meeting: The results show the address, phone number, map location, and email/website (when available), but they offer no details on the type of meeting (Wheelchair access? Closed group?) and no fields to enter that info if you have it.
Offers: Sponsor calling, Big Book/literature, meeting finder, sobriety counter
From the Hazelden Addiction Center comes the Field Guide to Life app, which provides literature, challenges, a meeting finder, and a panic button you can use to ask for quick support.
Organized into three sections (The Basics, Owning It, and The New You), the Field Guide to Life app aims to support people through their first year of recovery. It’s filled with plenty of action items like creating a safe space, and challenges such as dealing with triggers.
You work your way through Hazelden’s Mobile MORE (My Ongoing Recovery Experience) steps via a variety of supportive readings, tracking your “Power Ups vs. Obstacles,” and completing challenges. The Field Guide focuses on the little changes you can make in your life to support your recovery—setting up a relapse-prevention plan, for example.
In addition to inspirational reading and coaching, the app offers both a meeting finder and a contact-my-sponsor link in the Support section, and it has a reference tab for the 12 steps. Unfortunately, the meeting finder here is underwhelming: It merely links to the mobile site of the support group in question, so you’re essentially dropped off at AA’s front page, which is a little lame. However, turning your phone horizontal while in the app will switch the view to a sober counter, a nice touch.
This story, "Seven apps to help you stay sober, one day at a time" was originally published by TechHive.