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Apps That Aid Addiction Recovery

By Matt McMillenOctober 16, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Recovering from addiction or alcoholism is a difficult and lifelong commitment. Of course, the first step in recovery is getting help – whether with 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous or through a treatment center. Once you’ve made up your mind to quit and have sought treatment, you can also enlist your smart phone in your efforts to get and stay sober.

Here are a few of the apps designed to aid in addiction recovery:

Step Away (iOS). Produced with support from the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this free iPhone app has shown promise in a pilot study, helping users to cut in half the number of drinks they consumed each day. As far as we can tell, it’s one of the very few apps with some research to back its effectiveness (another, A-CHESS, shows great promise but is not widely available yet).

“Much like a personal coach or sponsor, the app helps [users] gain insight into their alcohol problem and teaches them skills they can use to manage problems, such as alcohol cravings, anxiety and moving away from a drinking lifestyle,” writes imedicalapps.com’s Steven Chan, MD, a resident physician in psychiatry & human behavior at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.

When you get a craving, you can record it and review strategies to overcome it. Step Away also lets you designate high-risk locations, where you feel you might be tempted to drink. And the app can help you connect with people you have designated as supportive.

The 12 Steps AA Companion app ($ 1.99 for Android, $ 2.99 for iOS) is another excellent app option. It includes a sobriety counter to keep track of the number of days you’ve stayed sober. It also contains the Big Book, the basic AA text, and a meeting finder to help you connect with others when you feel the need, no matter where you are.

The MORE Field Guide to Life (Android and Apple – both $ 7.99) Based on the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s My Ongoing Recovery Experience (MORE) addiction treatment program, the app offers daily guidance and weekly challenges to help keep you motivated, while its support network feature connects you with your sponsor at the push of a button. There’s also a version designed for young people ages 12 to 25, My Sober Life (Android and iOS).

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