One of the most important things for a recovering addict to find after rehab is a support community. The relationships formed in groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can make the difference between sobriety and relapse.
Having someone to reach out to (who understands your struggle) during vulnerable moments is key to recovery. In addition to a physical support group like AA or NA, the Hey, Charlie app, which is encrypted for user privacy, sends text alerts to recovering addicts to help them stay on track.
The app's co-founder, Vincent Valant, said Hey,Charlie can be used in tandem with a recovery group or by itself. The app doesn't use any substance-specific language according to Valant, so it can be used by anyone.
"Everyone takes a different road to recovery, and Hey,Charlie has been designed to help strengthen connections across support networks: from friends and family members who want to help, to sponsors, recovery coaches, counselors, and clinicians," Valant told Download.com
Avoiding areas or people that risk your sobriety can be challenging. Hey, Charlie takes this into account by asking objective questions about your life.
"They are objective questions, not subjective, and they aren't stigmatizing," co-founder Emily Lindemer, a doctoral candidate at the Health Sciences and Technology program at MIT and Harvard, told MIT News. "They do not ask the person in recovery to incriminate anybody. We try to figure out things like, is this a person that even knows that you are struggling with substance abuse disorder? Is this a person who contributes to stress levels in your life? Or is this the type of person who encourages your sobriety?"
You can mark "risky" locations like places you used to buy drugs or alcohol.
"One of the biggest barriers to recovery from addiction is being unable to escape the social environment and the triggers that can promote relapse," Lindemer told WBUR.
The app will send an encouraging notification like "Hey, I know you're near a risky area. You can do this," if you approach one of these marked spots.
Along with risky locations, recovering addicts must reevaluate their friend groups. People you used to get high with or drink with pose a risk to your sobriety. If one of a "risky" contact messages or calls you, Hey, Charlie will send a notification.
"Wait a minute, are you sure you want to speak to John Smith right now?" the app will ask.
Users can choose trusted support contacts and the app will provide resources to those contacts to help them be a part of their friend's recovery.
Hey, Charlie also sends gentle, encouraging messages throughout the day. The app offers self-esteem boosts and possible coping strategies like, "You told me your gym is a place that makes you feel good, why don't you go there?"
The app's pilot kept track of 24 people over a month's time and yielded positive results.
Updated 11/2/18, 10:13 a.m.
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- The Hey, Charlie app is meant to help recovering addicts stay sober with positive text reminders and encouragement throughout the day.
- The app reminds you of locations and people that might pose a threat to sobriety. Users can access coping strategies and choose trusted support contacts to help.
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