Search
  • Lindy Backues

Encouragement in Weekly Doses: My Takeaway after 6 Months of Sober Sidekick Meetings

Beginning on March 10, 2022, we the leadership team at Sidekick Mobile Technologies have

met weekly with a handful of Sober Sidekick members, trying to stay close to the action and find

out directly how things are going in the lives of a small group of real people, actual on-going

users of our app. As I think you will see below, this has been immensely helpful for us,

providing thick contextual understanding of the sort of work we are trying to do.


The way it works is this: our CEO, Chris Thompson, takes note of individuals who have been

particularly active on our platform in any given week, and he then invites that person to a weekly

Thursday Zoom meeting so that she or he might share with us and the rest of the attendees

how things are going and what the person is facing. Once a person gets a weekly invitation,

that person is always welcome back for all subsequent Thursday gatherings. Many do come

back – some do so repeatedly – while some do not (whether this be for personal reasons or

because scheduling conflicts pop up); in the end, we have averaged about 5 to 7 persons with

each Zoom call. Every person gets a chance to share what is going on in his or her life – no

matter how “successful” that person feels at present. To-date, we have gathered 25 times;

personally, I have been fortunate to be a part of 25 of those meetings.


I look so forward to each week – these virtual gatherings stir me, they move me, and, most

importantly, they bring me directly in contact with active Sidekick members, forcing me not to

lean on my own mental caricatures of who they might be, mental ideas unwittingly concocted in

my head that do not match their real experiences lived out in real time (it must be said, we are

fully aware this is not a scientific survey. In a word, these meetings are not a statistically

representative picture of Sidekick members – reliable data such as that would necessitate

putting together a properly developed survey based on rigorous social science methodologies.

Rather, these weekly meetings offer to us – Sidekick leadership – a slice of genuine life that

keeps us aware of real people behind numbers and data the Sidekick app offers to us. These

meetings serve as a slice of actual experiences lived out by real members in real contexts.)

Inevitably, attending these meetings serves to correct some of the assumptions I have, whether

good assumptions or not so good.


I am struck to know – by way of these 25 meetings – just how real and how raw life can be.

Some members show up delightfully encouraged, with stories of how they have finally managed

to beat back their demons, how they have finally stood up for themselves, finally forgiven

themselves and taken one day at a time. They arrive proud of their sobriety and the growing

number of days not drinking, happy as to how it is growing and what that means in terms of

chances for new relationships, for new confidence, and for new possibilities. Others come in

having taken another drink, disappointed that they are starting over but committed to do so,

nonetheless. And others appear having trod a long journey – these persons have years or even

decades under their belt and they use that history to testify to those just starting that things are

possible, they encourage beginners (or “re-beginners”) that going step-by-step can add up to

victory and a newly fashioned way of life. Every one of these “old-timers’ still identifies as a

person in process, an individual addicted who must remain vigilant lest she or he falls back into old patterns.


Most end up expressing thankfulness that, at the click of a button, they can find

others on the Sidekick app who understand their plight, who sense their struggle, who share in

their joys, and who empathize with their failures. They need each other and – as they often

testify openly with a certain level of surprise – by way of the Sober Sidekick app, they can have

each other no matter where they are or what time of the day it is. Sidekick members value the

AA Twelve Step Process, they get much out of the Big Book, and virtually every Thursday

someone mentions attending a brick-and-mortar meeting as a helpful thing to do, as something

they recommend to each other (many attend multiple meetings throughout the week). But many

also lament that AA meetings can be hard to find, they sometimes meet at odd times and in odd

locations, that they sometimes find it difficult to break into local AA groups, and that going to

meetings can publicly reveal specifics they simply are not yet ready to share openly. Almost

every week someone says the Sober Sidekick app meets and overcomes these limitations.


This, I think, is the Sober Sidekick distinctive. It is not a replacement for other good therapies

and approaches – it simply powerfully fills in the gaps by way of member stories, member

presence, and member authenticity, all made available on-line by way of a click of a button.


Find below real-life statements from persons in attendance at our weekly Thursday Zoom

meetings. I hope that these comments encourage you as they have encouraged me over these

last six months.


“I am grateful for your platform because I often cannot get to one meeting. This platform

is amazing.”


“I look at my app every single day to keep myself going....I am very thankful for all of

you....”


“It is the support group that gets you through – this app is one of the best supports you

can have. I post something and, from all over, you get the support that you need.”


“This [app] has given me the strength to show up, because people are really raw, really

real. The support is overwhelming....”


“I don't know if I can say this – I never believed in God, never, never, never. But this app

– it gives me hope.”


“I appreciate you guys [crying], I am happy. The support [on this app] means a lot.”


“Sober Sidekick is the only type of social media I participate in. The other stuff is toxic.

Sober Sidekick is my jam. Even the stuff where I hear people who are struggling, I need

to hear that – so, I come in here every day.”


“I got this app perhaps 30 or 32 days ago...I drank over the weekend. I am now down

low – I didn't want to tell anyone that it didn't get better....I am so glad that you guys are

at my fingertips. I am glad I don't need to go anywhere. You guys are great.”


“I have never been to an AA meeting....I thought this Sober Sidekick was a generated

thing – is this real? Are these really people? I don't have to go to a meeting in order to

get help?”


“This is a great app...; phones are so dangerous; but this is a great thing on the phone.”


‘I am leaving the area, but I can take you guys with me - all I need to do is push a button

on my phone. I can be in your meeting no matter where I am.’


“I literally stumbled on this app out of nowhere – it was the universe saying this is where

you need to go.”


“I relapsed and I knew I needed something different. AA is just not right for me right

now....But I can now often get on this app – I feel that helping others, when I feel bad,

makes me feel better than anything. Even if it is a little word that can help others make it

through a new day.”


“When I found this app, it made it a lot easier. When you see that number up there, you

don't want that number to go back. Also, reading all of those stories.”


“When I was in the hospital I downloaded your app....I live in a small town so this app is

beyond helpful.”


“It is like a Sober Facebook – it is like a tree of life.”


‘I like how the web site is set up – it is easy. When you are on it, it is good to hear other

people and their stories. So, thanks for making the web site.”


“I love the app....I like to get on when I can, share my insights. Read other people’s

postings; it helps to see other people who have been sober a long time start drinking

again. That lets me know I am not the only one to fail.”


‘This app was really helpful seeing everyone's progress. Yea, you can see them relapse

after 90 days or something, but you see them keep trying. That is what we need - we

need to keep trying.’


“I think the app is fantastic because you can always go on there and get some help.”


“This platform is super cool - they have 24/7 Zoom meetings, always available. It saved

me.”


“I live in a smaller area, and I don't want to see people and I work in the community.”


“...I don't think there is anyone else who knows I think my drinking is a problem - yes,

that's about it.”


“This group saved my life – I was headed to the store and Chris sent me an invitation

and I did not go to the store. And the next week I didn't go to the store. And now I am

still sober.”