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Drug Recovery: There’s an iPhone App For That

I am guilty of using iPhone applications to quantify my daily living; if it’s an activity, be assured that I have tracked it. I can tell you the average miles I’ve run in the past seven days, the number of calories I would have burned if I had run farther, and the fat content of the ice cream I devoured post-workout. This started me thinking, what else can people track? Can iPhone apps—like self-monitors—offer assistance for those in drug recovery? Using “drug addiction” as my query, I searched the App Store on my iPhone, and then downloaded and familiarised myself with the top-rated, free-of-charge drug recovery applications.

OneRecovery Meeting by OneHealth Solutions is a search engine for those currently enrolled in recovery programs. When you first open the application you are asked to designate your drug recovery programme and your start date. The layout is simple; a small banner on the home screen reads, “You have been in recovery for,” and then quantifies the number of days, weeks, and/or years of sobriety. Beneath this heading are three buttons, “Meetings,” “Daily Meditations,” and “Profile.”

Using your current location, OneRecovery Meeting will search for meetings near you, providing you with each meeting’s location and time. You can export this information to e-mail, text, or your phone’s calendar. Moreover, the app offers a daily meditation; on the day of writing, I read one entitled “Mindfulness,” advice on how to avoid self-blaming and judgmental thoughts. Should your needs change, you can alter your profile (programme and recovery date) any time.

OneRecovery Meeting is limited though; it is only intended for those currently enrolled in 12-step programs—it is impossible to choose other drug recovery programmes from the drop-down menu.

Steps Away by DBJApps was the second highest-ranked (and still free!) search result. Similar to OneRecovery Meeting this application functions mainly as a search engine, allowing users to locate—there’s even an “add meeting” option for those looking to establish a new chapter—group meetings in your neighborhood. This application does one better than OneRecovery Meeting though; it includes non-12-step programs.

Steps Away is less of a self-monitoring tool and more of a community provider. With a simple, well-organised layout, you can click on “Fellowship” which connects you to a newsfeed—similar to Facebook’s—where users share photographs and engage in discussions about addiction rehab.

iRecovery: Addiction Recovery Tracker by Hope & Freedom Counseling Services is rated much lower than the first two, though not because of a lack of resources. It functions on a points system; for each healthy activity you incorporate into your drug recovery you are awarded a certain number of points—journaling is worth one point, doing a recovery activity with your partner is two points, engaging in healthy sex is worth three points.

Unfortunately outside the points system the application’s functions are muddled. There is a tab entitled “Circle of 5” where you can add the e-mail addresses of five people to whom you wish to hold you and your sobriety accountable. It’s unclear where you are supposed to write actual content to them though, like an e-mail without a text box. The application also includes a “Sober Calc” which—similar to a feature of OneRecovery Meeting—records how many days, weeks, or months a user has been sober. Without adding any information about myself the “Sober Calc” determined that I had already been sober for 15,519 days. I was unable to find a way to correct this.

There are tens, probably hundreds, more applications like these. Many, if not most, of the applications I browsed functioned as tracking devices, a digitised way of monitoring one’s drug recovery progress. When I first typed in my search query I had scoffed at the results—did people think you could actually simulate addiction rehab with an iPhone app? After browsing applications for an afternoon though, one thing was clear: despite the differences from one app to the next, from iRecovery to OneRecovery Meetings, no app presumed to stand in for addiction rehab. Rather, they seemed to accept their roles as supplemental.

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