Today there are mobile apps that can direct you to the nearest 12-step meeting, keep your sponsor on speed dial, or warn close friends and family when you’re in danger of drug relapse.
Want to chart your progress in recovery? There are plenty of apps for that. Track your personal sobriety statistics, keep a virtual journal or even monitor your alcohol intake with a variety of interactive platforms. Your mobile device can also be your “pocket coach” for learning stress management techniques or mindfulness-based relapse prevention.
“Mobile apps can be very effective tools that can be used in conjunction with professional treatment, but are not a means to replace the guidance of a healthcare or behavioral health provider,” says Elizabeth Perez, Public Health Advisor at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Perez says people in recovery should evaluate whether the app is evidence-based and from a reputable organization or individual. “Other things to consider are cost, if the app is profit-based, security features if you’re inputting personal health information, any data and roaming charges, and ultimately if it is helping meet or sustain your health needs,” Perez says.
Here’s our collection of recommended apps to jump start and sustain your recovery. Apps are available on Apple iOS and Google Android devices, unless noted, and many of the free versions offer in-app purchases for more features. Information is current as of August, 2015.
This well-reviewed app uses geo-social networking to connect you with sober people – locally, or anywhere in the world. You can choose to remain anonymous, upload a profile picture or use the Sober Grid GPS locator to meet up with people in recovery. Two unique features of this app include the “Burning Desire” and “Need a Ride” buttons. Burning Desire lets others know when you’re at risk of relapse (or lets you help those in distress). Need a Ride connects users who have revoked driver’s licenses with people who can transport them to recovery meetings or counseling.
Another app that can geo-locate people in recovery, with the ability to chat and network locally and globally. Anonymity is protected.
Field Guide to Life
While more expensive than most apps, Field Guide to Life provides intensive support for the critical first year of recovery. Users progress through three volumes (The Basics, Owning It, The New You) as they practice core recovery principles from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. There’s daily coaching to help you reach your goals, a sober counter and 16 weeks of videos featuring insights from real people in recovery. Users can develop a personalized relapse prevention plan and track their progress, biggest obstacles and “Power Ups” such as meditation and exercise.
AA Big Book, Sobriety Tools for Alcoholics Anonymous
You can read the full, searchable text of AA’s Big Book with this popular recovery app. AA Big Book is loaded with interactive features such as a Meeting Finder and Sobriety Calculator, and also recovery podcasts, personal stories, 12-step prayers, and speaker tapes from AA meetings.
Squirrel Recovery; Addiction
FREE Android Only (iOS Version in Development)
Squirrel Recovery; Addiction was developed by Ohio State University to help heroin users stay clean. What makes the app unique is a personalized sober support circle. You can choose up to 10 people to be in your recovery circle, and press a panic button to alert them (via text messaging) when you’re in crisis or at risk of drug relapse. Squirrel Recovery; Addiction lets you set your own personal check-in times when drug usage is most likely to occur, and gives incentive coins when sobriety milestones are achieved.
My Narcotics Anonymous Toolkit
Journal on the go with encrypted, password-protected data (and, if you prefer, a fictitious name) to protect your privacy with this NA Toolkit app. You can use the Spot Check Inventories to rapidly get rid of anger or resentment so these emotions don’t feed your addiction. As the app developer notes, “Whether you hate your spouse, feel attracted to someone else, tempted to slap your boss . . . whatever, just type in your journal without the fear of being discovered or judged.” NA Tool Kit also includes a Gratitude List and The Clean Calculator for tracking your sobriety time.
Sober Places can help you find the nearest 12-step meeting – with location support for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, Al-anon and Alateen. This app is user-driven, with all meetings verified.
A pricier but popular alternative is the Steps Away meeting finder ($9.99, iOS only). Steps Away uses a GPS meeting locator, maintains an extensive database of recovery meetings, and lets users edit information directly from the app.
You can also try In the Rooms (free, Android and iOS), a huge social network for recovery and 12-step fellowship worldwide, or Addicaid (free, Android and iOS) to find peer support. Meeting Finder (free, Android only) can help you locate AA meetings in all 50 states.
12 Steps Speakers
$3.99 – $4.99
This app lets you instantly stream or download speeches from the major 12-step recovery organizations (AA, NA, CA, OA, Al-Anon). Sort by speaker rating, area or name. The app icon does not show any references to recovery, to protect anonymity.
FREE, Android Only
This self-help app puts the power of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) at your fingertips. CBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that can help you reframe negative self-talk and break habits that lead to drug relapse. The Cognitive Diary app helps you challenge irrational thinking and offers password protection and a hidden icon to protect your privacy.
Clean Time Counter
FREE, Android Only
This straightforward app calculates your time in sobriety – including the amount of time that has elapsed down to the days, hours, minutes and seconds.
Other popular sober counters include One Day at a Time (Android only) and I Am Sober (Android, iOS). Many addiction recovery apps also contain a sober counter as one of their features.
SMART Recovery® Cost Benefit Analysis
FREE, iOS Only
SMART Recovery® is the most widely known of the secular, non-12 step approaches to addiction recovery. The mutual aid organization aims to be self-empowering and science-based, and this app reflects the SMART Recovery® philosophy. Users weigh the pros and cons of their addiction with the Cost Benefit Analysis tool – and can quickly see all the negative consequences of their substance use.
$5.99, iOS Only
This mindfulness-based app builds a road-map for relapse prevention. There’s a sober counter and an Emergency Plan for urgent situations, intense cravings or dealing with ambivalence. Recovery Key also features daily affirmations, meditation recordings and ways to connect to help and support systems. Users can archive and forward information about their life direction to their recovery support team.
$1.99 – $2.99
Healthy habits such as making time to exercise are essential to reduce stress and maintain well-being in recovery. This highly rated app features step-by-step animations for more than 120 quick workouts. You can do the exercises at home or on the road and the app automatically logs your workout in timeline or calendar view.
Also consider these top apps that help busy people get fit: Sworkit Lite Workout Trainer (free, Android and iOS), 7 Minute Workout Challenge ($2.99 Android, $1.99 iOS), and CARROTfit ($2.99, iOS).
This uber-popular app delivers 10-minute, guided meditation sessions to soothe your mind whether you’re at home, work or on the go. Founded and voiced by a former Tibetan monk, Headspace bills itself as “a gym membership for the mind.” The app’s secular meditations have attracted more than 2 million followers worldwide.
$2.99 – $4.99
Buddhify helps you find your inner calm with 80+ custom guided meditations (five to 30 minutes each). Although not specifically designed for addiction recovery, Buddhify can help you de-stress, sleep better and become more mindful – all critical components of a healthy, sober lifestyle.
Joe and Charlie’s Big Book Study
Gain recovery insights from two famous members of Alcoholics Anonymous – Joe M and Charlie P. This free app contains 10 of the 34 original audio tracks recorded by the men in 1988 when they were both two decades sober. All tracks are available in a paid version of the app.
Today’s Step: Recovery
Daily inspiration for anyone in recovery, with guided meditations, exercise videos, uplifting quotes and personal stories of redemption.
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