The Sober Sidekick Story
By Chris Thompson, Creator of Sober Sidekick
I guess you could say I was a late bloomer - I had my first drink at 19 years old. But it stood out vividly in my memory because, out of all the things I had done up to that point, it was the first time I actually felt like myself. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.
Over the next three years, I would develop a reliance on that feeling and the alcohol that brought it. When I experienced my highest highs like having my music app blow up after getting retweeted by Jay-Z, and finding purpose to be the best dad I could when an unexpected pregnancy arose, the alcohol amplified my drive. But it was also there when I hit the lowest lows of the app crashing under the strain of all those users, and the heartbreak when I found out the baby girl wasn’t mine after dropping out of school to take care of her. And while the specifics of each person’s journey may look different, the results are often the same; alcohol sinks its teeth in and doesn’t let up.
So I cut myself off from everyone. My addiction thrived in that isolation and I eventually hit rock bottom. I couldn’t function with alcohol, but at the same time I could no longer function without it. My behaviors were unmanageable. I found myself in situations where I would come to in hospital beds, handcuffs or worse - at one point having to solve the problem I’d created by stealing from a drug dealer.
Then, on Thanksgiving Day 2018, it all came to a head. I had been sleeping on the streets for two weeks straight. I was miserable, the DTs were setting in and I tried to go to a hospital for help, but was turned away. I laid down on the curb with the rain pouring down, and took a hard look at my life...How did I get here? I had dreams. I had goals. It was at that point that something changed in me. There’s a big difference between fault and responsibility. No matter who or what was at fault, I realized that I was the only one who could take responsibility for my life. At that darkest hour, I called my mom and asked for one last chance. She checked me into a rehab facility where I met my sponsor (who I continue to work with to this day!), and got clean. As I went through the steps, I was able to overcome my biggest obstacle, the resentment I felt toward myself.
I learned that recovery wasn’t about strength or willpower, but a change in perspective. And with the wall of guilt and shame broken down, I was able to connect with and relate to others. As I gained more perspective through interactions with other alcoholics and addicts in recovery, I began to understand that there’s more to me than my struggles. I also began working on a new project - an idea for a different kind of app.
It started as a way to keep myself occupied, but as I poured myself into developing the app I saw that it had the potential to help others who struggle, like I did, to see the problem is in our head and not in our circumstances. For me, the anxiety of asking for support was one of the reasons I kept relapsing. I was stuck in my own head and didn’t have anyone to help ground me. But I knew Sober Sidekick could change that. My goal was to make it easier for individuals who are struggling to find support without judgment, and instead to be met with empathy. So it needed to be a social medium that limited ego by keeping the focus on anonymity and prioritizing giving support to get support. I launched the app in January 2019; at the time I had 60 days sober. But when new members came through without any kind of marketing budget, I saw the real power of the app. People were sharing it, and turning it into a true community. Now, 25,000 members later, here we are.
I’m glad that you’re here learning more about this app. And I hope you’ll join us on Sober Sidekick knowing that you’re never alone.
We’re in this together,
- Chris :)