In the United States, millions of Americans struggle with drug and alcohol use. In 2015, approximately 20.8 million people met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder, and an estimated 1 in 12 Americans were in need of substance abuse treatment.1 Factors like cost, lack of childcare, no insurance coverage, or fear of losing a job keep people from seeking care. In an effort to increase access to recovery resources, app developers have combined evidence-based research with technology to provide people with addiction treatment and recovery resources they can carry around in their pocket—giving them 24/7 access to support and connection with the mind, body, and spirit. Now, you can easily track your personal sobriety, keep a virtual journal, monitor your triggers, and connect with peers who are also on the journey of recovery.
Top 6 Apps for People in Recovery
Below is a list of recovery-based apps that you can download on your phone to stay connected to a support community and meet your own treatment goals, no matter how long you’ve been sober. All of the apps are available on Google Android and Apple iOS. Prices are as of Sept. 2017 and subject to change.
Pear reSET from Pear Therapeutics is the first mobile medical application approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help treat substance use disorders. The digital therapy app consists of a specialized, 12-week program schedule that includes weekly check-ins. Currently, it is only available for download to individuals who are over the age of 17 and have a prescription from a clinician.
The reSET app guides users through a series of engaging lessons that help guide them through recovery. Users complete the lessons at their own pace and take a quiz after completing each lesson to receive virtual rewards.
The results of a 12-week randomized clinical trial of 399 patients found that the app significantly improved treatment outcomes, including higher rates of abstinence—40.3% compared to 17.6% among those who did not use the app.
If you are interested in trying out the app to supplement your own treatment regime, talk to your doctor or therapist for a prescription access code.
Sober Grid allows you to create online profiles and interact, support, and engage with other people in recovery using a platform similar to Facebook. You can also use the app to create anonymous check-ins about whether you’re sober or not, your mood, and what’s going on. These daily connections with others in the recovery community can help you remain clean and sober. If you turn on the GPS locator, you can find other sober people nearby. This can be useful if you’re traveling, in a new city, at a concert, or in an airport and you want to find other sober people to connect with.
A unique feature of the app is the “Daily Quests,” which are small things you can do throughout your day to improve your mood and reduce negative thinking, such as reading daily inspiration or adding something to a gratitude list. No matter where you are in your recovery journey, you can have access to life-saving support through this app.
Now, you can easily track your personal sobriety, keep a virtual journal, monitor your triggers, and connect with peers who are also on the journey of recovery.
Nomo – Sobriety Clocks
Nomo can be a great tool for people who are supporting someone through recovery. The clock function can mark emotional turning points, and you have the choice of sharing any feelings of fear, joy, or shame that you are experiencing in the “encouragement” section of the app, which helps you feel less alone in your recovery.
Key features include:
- Your own sobriety clock, which helps you easily track your days in sobriety.
- Ability to share your sobriety clock with people who are supporting your recovery, such as friends, family, partners, coaches, or counselors.
- Ability to message an accountability partner if you are feeling triggered to use.
There is also a “distraction” feature that serves as a simple refocusing tool to help give you strength during a moment of weakness.
SoberTool is an easy way to track your clean and sober days. The app includes daily motivational messages and reminders to keep you on target. You can earn rewards by hitting different milestones for the time that you have stayed sober. The app even calculates your estimated savings from staying sober. One of the most unique tools featured in the app is a way to work through triggers and avoid relapse. If you are feeling like you may relapse, you can answer questions and be guided through uplifting messages that will inspire you to stay sober.
The WEconnect app provides you with daily reminders to stay on track with your recovery plan. You can create reminders to call your sponsor, go to a group meeting, or meditate—anything you need to provide that extra push.
You can also check in to activities such as 12-step meetings, outpatient treatment, group therapy, church, or one-on-one meetings with a coach or sponsor. The app includes a list of “clarity routines” that you can mark off throughout your day. Some clarity routines include spending time doing something creative, visiting the doctor, exercising, journaling/writing, listening to music, spending time in nature, and much more. If you’re feeling really down, you can use the “SOS” feature to get extra support when you need it the most.
When you first download the app, you can select whether you want to manage your own recovery or be a supporter of someone else’s recovery. This is a great option for sponsors, coaches, friends, family, and coaches.
rTribe – Quit Porn/Drug/Food Addiction
The rTribe app was built by former addicts. Using the app, you can create an anonymous profile, connect with others via individual or group messaging, track your recovery, share your progress, and reach out when you are feeling triggered. The app also tracks your days in sobriety and your check-ins.
A useful feature of rTribe is that you can actually pinpoint what times of day you are particularly triggered to use substances. This can help you come up with a relapse prevention plan and figure out how to plan around these triggers. You can take a quick test to estimate your addiction severity, and the app will provide you with recommendations on your recovery plan. The app also features blogs and a few self-help videos that provide more information about addiction.
12-step programs are the cornerstone of addiction recovery for many people, and downloading your favorite program’s app can help you find meetings when you’re on the go and stay on target with your goals. There are a number of 12-step apps that are out there to choose from, depending on which program you participate in. While these apps can provide a tremendous amount of support, accountability, and affirmation, they are not intended to replace a sponsor or going to a meeting, but rather to serve as a complement to your recovery plan.
AA Big Book Free – For Alcoholics Anonymous
This app gives you access to the full text of the Big Book, along with a meeting finder, podcasts, prayers, and personal stories. You can use the app to bookmark meaningful passages, make notes on individual chapters in the comment section, and search for specific keywords. The app also features a sobriety calculator so you can enter your sobriety date and keep track of your progress.
24 Hours a Day
This app is based off the best-selling book by Richard Walker. The app comes with 366 daily meditations that you can read whenever you feel like you could use some support. It can come in handy if you can’t make it to a 12-step meeting. The daily meditations are inspiring and uplifting. This is a great recovery tool and allows you to easily read passages on your phone. Some highlights of the app include:
- You can share daily messages with friends via email or text.
- You can search through all 366 meditations by keyword.
- Reminder function so you will remember to read the daily meditation.
Each day you will receive a thought for the day and an accompanying meditation for the day. You can choose to incorporate reading the meditations into your daily routine or open the app when you have a moment to read through some recovery material.
12 Steps AA Companion
Price: $1.99 on android; $2.99 on iOS
This app is designed for people attending Alcoholics Anonymous. It includes a Big Book reader so you can highlight text and read on the go. It also features prayers, promises, and a note-sharing feature. Each step represents part of the healing and recovery process.
Came to Believe in Sobriety
This user-friendly app was designed by former addicts and alcoholics to provide you the support you need to move forward in recovery. The app uses a wise old owl character to lead you through recovery—helping you set goals, record progress, and celebrate your hard work and milestones. The fun and friendly interface makes the app versatile for people of any age who are working through addiction recovery.
Through the app you can:
- Check in: Log your emotional status 3 times a day.
- Write: Daily writing exercises, gratitude lists, and more.
- Set reminders: Get notifications to call your sponsor, go to a service event, take medication, and more.
- Access the Big Book: The app features the 2nd edition of the AA Big Book so you can have it handy for reference.
- Email: Share your accomplishments for the week or a piece of writing you completed and share it with family, your sponsor, or therapist.
SMART Recovery Cost Benefit Analysis
The SMART Recovery Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) app is a complement to the SMART Recovery groups. Using the CBA tool you can quickly see the consequences of potential actions. The CBA strategy helps many people recover from addiction and addictive behaviors, ranging from substance abuse to sexual addiction. The app makes performing a CBA convenient and easy.
A CBA is an assessment of 4 questions:
- What are the advantages of using/doing?
- What are the disadvantages of using/doing?
- What are the advantages of NOT using/doing?
- What are the disadvantages of NOT using/doing?
12 Step Meditation Daily Reflections for AA, NA, Al-Anon
Price: free (plus monthly paid subscription options)
This app features hundreds of easy-to-follow guided meditations, as well as soothing music, prayers, and 12-step recovery audio. This app can help you make meditation a habit in your recovery process and features a meditation timer, calming sounds, daily inspiration, and a way to layer sounds and make your own audio mixes. Using the app, you can create your own meditation playlist. A subscription is required to unlock all of the content, so you can decide how much you want to invest. If you are going to be traveling and unable to make meetings, this can be a great way to stay engaged with the steps.
Other Helpful Apps
Recovery is part of a full lifestyle change, and apps that focus on other aspects of your health may also be useful in sobriety. There are hundreds of health apps to choose from to aid in your recovery plan and many are free, so you can try out a number of apps to find the best fit for you and your lifestyle.
Price: free (plus monthly & yearly paid subscriptions)
Recovering from addiction largely depends on forming new habits. Meditation can help you create new patterns of thinking and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This app teaches you how to meditate. It is designed to make meditating easy and convenient. You can browse through hundreds of sessions ranging from de-stressing to increasing positivity.
Studies show that meditation can ease the mind and help decrease psychological stress like anxiety, pain, and depression.3
The program offers a free starter program: 10 days with 10 minutes of guided meditation. After 10 days, you have to subscribe to unlock all of the meditations. Subscriptions are $7.99 per month for a year, or $12.95 per month with no year commitment. You can also purchase a lifetime subscription for $419.95.
Price: free (plus monthly & yearly paid subscriptions)
This easy-to-use app is designed to help you meditate throughout the day. If you have a busy lifestyle, this is a great tool to help you meditate on-the-go, and the app has meditations designed specifically to help you relax as you begin your day or before a big meeting or a date. There are sessions for sleep, anxiety, positivity, stress reduction, and to help slow breathing. This is a great app to learn about the practice of meditation. There are free sessions available, but if you want to go deeper, you can sign up for a subscription to unlock access to all of the mindfulness exercises. The monthly premium cost is $11.99 per month, or you can sign up for a yearly subscription for $7.99 per month.
Recovery is part of a full lifestyle change, and apps that focus on other aspects of your health may also be useful in sobriety.
When you are in recovery from addiction, it is important that you keep a healthy work/life balance. If you feel overwhelmed by a heavy workload, long hours, or a stressful boss, you may be more likely to relapse. Tide helps you stay focused and productive with ambient noise and a timer. The focus timer is broken up in 25-minute fully concentrated periods and separated by 5-minute short breaks. You can choose from 5 meditation sounds, including forest, rain, and ocean.
This app holds you accountable and charts your progress toward your goals. You can track anything: sobriety, eating healthy, meditating, exercising, and much more. Strides lets you set 4 customizable types of trackers. Choose “target” if you want to reach a goal by a certain date; “habit” if you want to build a good habit or break a bad one; “average” to track an average value over time; and “milestones” to keep track of your pace to complete a project. This app is great if you want to set goals and see your progress.
This app helps you plan your next adventure. When you are in recovery, it is extremely helpful to stay busy. Going outside and enjoying the outdoors is an excellent way to keep your mind and body healthy. Whether you’re already someone who likes to adventure, or you just want to travel more, this app allows you to plan adventures like hikes, kayaking trips, rock climbing, and more. Share your experience and photos on their social platform, and check out what other users are doing.
Forks Over Knives
This app was designed by the makers of the film Forks Over Knives and features more than 300 plant-based recipes to help you eat clean, minimally processed foods. Each recipe comes with step-by-step instructions and photos to help you prepare the meal. You can also make notes in the app, save your favorite dishes, and create shopping lists.
This app organizes all of your tracking programs, including Moves, Runkeeper, and Apple Health, to help you meet your diet or weight loss goals. Through the app you can link up with social clubs and receive advice, support, and inspiration from other users. Nudge also connects you with a personal coach if you need more support and motivation.
Price: free (plus monthly & yearly paid subscriptions)
This app offers healthy recipes, exercise challenges, and a way to track your fitness goals. The embodyDNA feature gives you personalized insight into the foods, drinks, and activities that can help you lose weight. You can track your meals easily by taking a photo with the app’s Snap It feature and share your weight loss victories with friends.
If you are making a commitment to recovery, you can’t just stop at downloading the apps. You have to use them, read them, and try to refer to them on a daily basis. With the number of recovery apps available online, it’s easier now to reach out and get support than ever before. Whenever you’re ready, grab your phone and begin your recovery journey today.
- Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017). FDA permits marketing of mobile medical application for substance use disorder.
- Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E., et. al. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis.. JAMA Internal Medicine. 174(3):357–368.