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  • Chris Thompson

Rehab Doesn’t Work Without Community-First Solutions

You might have heard the saying, ‘the heart wants what the heart wants,’ but when it comes to addiction, it’s your brain that’s driving the bus, often right off the cliff.


While over 22 million Americans struggle with chronic addiction, only 1 in 7 actually seeks treatment. Of those, 85% within the first year of recovery according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In fact, the rehab industry, as a whole, has a 95% failure rate.


That’s astonishing, given that only cancer treatment bills insurers at a higher rate! So why is the rehab industry failing, and what can we do about it?

The Neurobiology of Addiction

The science of the addicted brain has revealed that genetic and epigenetic factors account for approximately 50% of the risk for addiction.


Specific genes have been identified that increase vulnerability to addiction, and epigenetic factors like early life stress can increase the expression of those ‘addiction genes.’


These biological factors can affect a person’s ability to prioritize behaviors that offer long-term benefits over those that provide short-term rewards. In short, your biology can make your substance of choice almost irresistible, almost.


The Other Half of Addiction

The other 50% of the risk for addiction is mediated by sociocultural factors. Notably, social isolation is a major contributing factor that increases vulnerability to addiction.


Researchers in Norway and the United States found that among study participants who had been sober for five years or more, positive relationships were one of the most helpful tools for reaching and maintaining abstinence.


That indicates that strong social networks are an important part of retraining the brain to look for dopamine rewards among supportive friends and family members rather than drugs or alcohol.

The Sober Sidekick Method

At Sober Sidekick, our research indicates that the risk for relapse goes down as peer engagement goes up.


In fact, among 4700 members who joined the program six months prior and who wrote comments within their first month, the monthly relapse rate dropped from 31% to 12.4%.


What’s more, members who used the platform five times or more a month had the lowest rates of relapse. The program strives to convert new members into this low-risk category as quickly as possible.


Currently, Sober Sidekick is converting an average of 12.6% of new members into that low-risk category in the first 36 hours of downloading the program.

What’s the Secret to Rehab Success?

How is Sober Sidekick able to do this? The secret sauce is the empathy algorithm. The program encourages members to engage with peers by writing and receiving comments of support.


We believe the opposite of addiction is connection, and our results are proving that to be true. The more successful the program is at getting members to engage with peers, the lower the risk of relapse.

Community First Solutions

It’s clear that the healthcare focus for addiction is too narrow. With billions spent on rehabilitation and treatment, the failure rate is unacceptably high.


The Sober Sidekick platform offers a new way forward that utilizes community support and connections to retrain your brain and keep the bus running smoothly!


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