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  • Lindy Backues

Reducing the risk of relapse by giving voice to voiceless populations


With now over 5,000 public reviews (4.8/5), and over 130,000 downloads, we have decided to take a stab at answering the following questions:


What’s going on here, and what does it mean?


We’ll answer these questions with the help of our members.

@Swraiin -

“I’m 3 days sober now and I remember my first day so clearly, it wasn’t even the withdrawals that were really bad this time. My mental health was taking a huge toll, depression and anxiety to the point it was completely debilitating. I felt scared, alone and I couldn’t tell anyone due to the sheer embarrassment of “here he goes again” the shame hits hard. I’m not even sure how I found the app, but I’m really glad I did. The community is all about self love and supporting each other through the early stages of withdrawal and recovery. Most new users “like myself” started at 24 hrs sober. And I find it amazing that we’ll all get to watch our little timers go up everyday. Everyday gets better, and this app allows you to do it with a loving community. Like others have said this isn’t a full recovery thing or rehab, it wasn’t meant to be. It does exactly what it’s intended to do, make you feel loved in a very dark time.”


@higginsl22 -

“I just recently learned of this app being available when researching a relapse prevention plan in order to create one and to hopefully find some printable worksheets to do in which were recovery related. I came across the app and started reading it. I was so excited to hear that there was support 24/7. The fact that there was media based support and feedback interested me as well. I downloaded the app and set up my profile right away. It was very easy to do and I was immediately connected into recovery by sharing and supporting. I absolutely loved this and I’ve been checking my profile numerous times throughout the day. I just recently relapsed and have been feeling pretty down, lonely, and disappointed in myself. My guilt and shame seemed to be holding me in a bad and negative space and nothing seemed to be pulling me out of it. This is a scary place to be because guilt and shame can most definitely keep you sick. Then I began opening up and making posts alongside encouraging others with their recovery. After a couple days I noticed I was really into the app and had actually been spending a lot of time on it and checking in on my profile numerous times a day. I was enjoying looking at what others were saying to me specifically. I then realized that having the support right from my phone had improved my overall attitude and status. I felt uplifted and not so down. I am new to the app, but very eager to continue getting familiar with it. So far it’s been great and I can see a major difference in just a couple of days of joining! I’m going to keep using it as I know it will continue to assist my recovery! Recommend it to anyone struggling with addiction for sure!”


Twotaul4u -

“I can’t say enough how much this site has made my sobriety worth fighting for even more. The encouragement from complete strangers is amazing and comforting. When you realize that your not alone or a loser and there are others just like you fighting the good fight, it helps so very much. I’m so grateful that this site was created and it’s an absolute must for me to have this safe place in my bag of tools. Thank you so much for creating this platform.”


What is going on here – what these users (and many others like them) are responding so positively to – is a phenomenon that we like to call ‘scaled empathy’. Scaled empathy happens when rank and file strugglers in the Sober Sidekick users bring their own challenges, their own hopes and dreams, and their own insights to the community, they reach out and assist others facing problems and challenges just like their own and, in the process, their extended empathy surprisingly fortifies them with greater hopes for recovery. The empathy shown to others in the end is scaled up, causing it to communally rebound back toward the initial user, making her or him feel stronger than they had before, more worthwhile than they had felt previously, and less alone in struggles that they have long thought were unique to them. This is a phenomenon long in evidence in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, but (as some of the comments here point out), in this case there are no geographical limits, no time limits, and users can choose to stay as anonymous as they would like, since the (virtual) community is forged by the users themselves, on-line by way of their smart phones.


But there is an additional benefit to the Sober Sidekick platform that we noticed over previous months and years. Due to the way the platform is designed and the way it thus may be used, it often gives voice to the voiceless – space for participation on the part of persons often shunted to the side – as these folk too travel down the road to recovery!


Unlike what happens at most AA or NA meetings, Sidekick meetings are completely self-forming and self-creating by way of a download of an app and several clicks of buttons on one’s smart phone. Sidekick meeting and member participation comes about by users logging on and then simply offering their own assistance to fellow users. Once that happens, they then may post in the Sidekick community or avail themselves of the wide variety (and growing number of) resources we have on offer there. It matters not if one is from a given minority community, from an under-represented gender demographic, or hales from some other overlooked, marginalized population or community. All interested persons of tangibly welcomed into full participation if they choose that option, since there are no gatekeepers nor a majority demographic one must conform to in order to fit in. In contrast – in spite of the many benefits AA meetings have provided to millions of persons in recovery over the years – when one enters into a typical meeting, one’s presenting gender, one’s presenting age range, sometimes even a particular socio-economic status or class, is unavoidably on display for all to see. If a person is not already a member of these groupings on display, one is left with the choice of trying hard to fit in (and conform), or not attending meetings at one of the few places (maybe the only place!) geographically available to a person in need of connectivity, understanding, and empathy.


@sgarciav323 -

“This app is beautiful in every way imaginable. In theory and execution because it’s so simple, easy to use, and is an excellent way to connect members of our society. For those who have trouble reaching out - this is the easiest and most effective way to change that for the better. The concept of giving and receiving support makes a world of a difference on those not so easy days we all have in recovery. It makes being of service an accomplishable goal just giving 5 mins of your day can change someone’s outlook for the better. So very blessed to have a member recommend this app. Will be sure to recommend it to others. Thanks! Much appreciated 🙏”


But, with Sober Sidekick, geography and locality is not a limiting factor. It matters little where others are located, it matters not what time of day it is (since someplace, somewhere on planet earth, someone is potentially available to connect with you if you are in need or if you wish to reach out and offer encouragement to a fellow traveler).


plgaudrey -

“Totally helped me Feel more at ease and at the beginning this stuff is so hard to get over my new opiate addiction but the program In an app zoomed two meetings saw the love when I was crawling out of my skin. And told others it’s ok to just hold on the moment will pass. I’m hard time to find meetings and groups when everyone is dying from fentanyl and everything is legal. I don’t think i can express gratitude enough except to make sure I spread the word. My woman even downloaded the app and she was the one not so ready to get sober cause of going to meetings and meeting In person. If there was a godly app it’s this one. Thanks again for helping me to 5 days just today.”


Over the past many months, our demographics seem to bear out this sort of scaled up empathy made available to those who are usually by-passed or who fall through the cracks. For instance, our user population is something like 60% female. As we engage with our users – both by way of the platform and in focus group meetings with representative members of community – it has become clear to us that minority populations seem even more active and engaged in activities of connectivity and empathy than are those from majority populations. Notably, single mothers (persons who often work multiple jobs simply in order to make ends meet) still seem to find help and assistance by way of participation in the Sober Sidekick community, and these same overtaxed and overlooked women often end up being some of the most active members in our community, persons heroic who consistently reach out to help others.


@kaylagotsober2022-

“I got out of rehab and turned off social media. I needed a new, positive, supportive, and SOBER network. I found that here in Sober Sidekick. It’ll only get better as it grows. I highly recommend this app to anyone in any stage of recovery.”


Persons of minority status in overlooked communities often face daunting challenges as they try to make space for self-care, for their own recovery needs, whether this be due to the lack of time in their schedules, to the constant challenge of having to multi-task, or to their simply being excluded from communities (whether overtly or not) that might offer to them resources toward sobriety, recovery, and connectivity. And due to these challenges, persons like this who are mostly voiceless and powerless to change their situation often fall back into old patterns of alcohol and drug use, simply as a coping mechanism in the face of their own marginal status.


@C Gladue -

“Support...and I found it here , day 1 , with many supporters sending messages, equal to a lot of sponsors at one time! I found 24/7 help by just opening the app as needed. I’m experiencing loss of sleep/ meaning restarting a new clean sleep habit... n as I found myself awake .. I found someone had reached out 3 mins prior for support and I was able to try to say some kind words in return and it felt great... I planned to embrace this with my ❤️ “


We believe the design of the Sober Sidekick app alleviates many of these challenges. Our users seem to be telling us that. That is what is going on – a way has now opened up for these often-forgotten individuals by way of this app so that, for persons like this who seek recovery, restoration, and connectivity, empathy is scaled up and extended into places not often reached by more customary treatment regimens on offer. We hope that for these persons, too, there is now a more promising road toward their own self-curated recovery.