App provides key tools for recovering addicts

In recent months, we’ve seen plenty of research detailing the potential mental health damage associated with smartphones and excessive screen time.

From those in the so-called “iGeneration” (born between 1995 and 2012) being more depressed and less socially developed than every preceding generation at the same point in their lives to local experts describing society’s dependence on hand-held devices as being like “digital crack,” it’s a wonder any of us manage to be productive.

So, when a digital development has the ability improve our mental well-being, it’s only fair to mention that too.

And that appears to be the case with Sober Grid — a social networking app created by recovering addict Beau Mann — that promises those in recovery will now have in the palm of their hands “virtual sober support [and] the tools they need to maintain sobriety after treatment.”

Sober Grid is not a 12-step program, nor is it affiliated with any 12-step recovery program.

Rather, the free app — which works on both iPhones and Android devices — is meant to be a supplemental tool, one that augments what recovering addicts have already learned and keeps them on the path to recovery.

Mann, Sober Grid’s founder and CEO, explained that he decided to develop the app when, shortly into his recovery, he was attending the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The 35-year-old former art gallery owner and business executive found that socializing in the environments he was accustomed to (alcohol-filled parties, bars, nightclubs, etc.) was like “navigating a minefield” and that “without a support system in place, recovery can be just as isolating as addiction.”

And there was nothing available that let him connect — in real time — with other recovering addicts at the touch of smartphone button.

Since launching in 2015, Sober Grid, which is available at the iTunes and Google Play stores, has garnered some 80,000 active users — what Mann described as “a self-regulating community dedicated to sobriety.”

Users benefit from the free app’s three primary components:

  • A means for immediate support
  • Geosocial networking
  • Sober newsfeed

‘Burning Desire’

When users are going through a rough time or feel as though they’re in immediate danger of relapsing, they can press the app’s “Burning Desire” button to alert other Sober Grid users they need help. It gives users instant access to countless surrogate “sponsors” both near and far. There’s also a “Need A Ride” option that lets other users in your area know that you could use help in getting to a support-group meeting.

Geosocial networking

The geosocial networking feature enables users to speak or meet with nearby users if they so desire. Users also have the option to remain completely anonymous — which Mann said was an important distinction between Sober Grid and, say, Facebook.

Mann also noted that geosocial networking is especially helpful to users who are on a business trip, in an airport or moving to a new city. It also receives especially heavy usage during the holiday season.

Sober newsfeed

The sober newsfeed is a safe and supportive message board where users can post their thoughts and read the real-time ones of others who are experiencing similar struggles and challenges.

According to Mann, Sober Grid has users in all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the world.

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