Apps to Help With Addiction Recovery

The glut of smartphone apps targeting addiction and behavior modification can itself be overwhelming to sort through.

Nowadays there’s a mobile application for just about everything. Whether you’re counting calories, sharing family photos or looking for new romance (or trying to keep one alive)—even if swallowing swords is your virtual niche—the brave new world of mobile technology has something for everybody.

The same trend describes the world of addiction recovery, where there’s an app for just about every addiction, according to a 2014 article in The Fix. As evidence, how is this for irony? There are now even mobile apps for smartphone addiction.

The glut of smartphone apps targeting addiction and behavior modification can itself be overwhelming to sort through. For those in recovery from substance abuse who are looking for helpful apps to support their journey but don’t have time to sift through all of the options, this very short list can be a life saver:


A-CHESS is a newer mobile app developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin as a continuing relapse prevention support for those in recovery from alcoholism and alcohol use disorders, after they leave treatment.

The app came highly recommended by a leading scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Kathleen Boyle, who in a recent interview with Beach House Center for Recovery praised A-CHESS as an “impressive” example of how innovations in technology are expanding and improving the delivery of substance-abuse care for those who need it.

The app provides extensive recovery support to users, including the following   feature that Boyle was quick to highlight: When a patient leaves treatment, they can input their location and other details so that the app will sound a warning when they are near at-risk locations, such as liquor stores or places where they used to drink with friends. And, “If the GPS picks up that they’re going near that place, the phone will call off. It will ask them if they want to have an immediate FaceTime with a counselor.”

That feature is one among many, according to an introductory video to A-CHESS produced by the app’s developer, CHESS Mobile Health. Some of the other bonuses are a panic button, relaxation strategies, motivational reflections and customized reminders of what’s important to users, like pictures of loved ones.



recoveryBox is an app designed to promote accountability in recovery for a range of addictions. The app lets users customize and track their daily accountability to recovery (depending on their particular addiction, which they are prompted to input). “Red,” “yellow” and “green” lights accord with daily choices or habits (in the way of activities, events or actions) that either support their sobriety or put them at risk of relapse.

Green lights are healthy habits to achieve–for example, activities that demonstrate physical, emotional or spiritual self-care. Yellow lights signify choices that put a user at potential risk of relapse, such as hanging out with an at-risk person. Red lights equate with old drug-seeking behaviors, such as buying a six-pack at the liquor store or calling a former drug dealer.

The same app lets you input treatment goals, monitor personal relapse triggers, track sober anniversaries, record and journal 12-step progress and access daily motivational quotes and other inspirational resources.


Sober Grid

Sober Grid, according to its description, “puts a free peer support network right in your pocket to aid you in your recovery.” The app lets users build a local network of supportive peers in recovery. During moments of intense craving, for example, users can press a “Burning Desire” button that lets them connect with other sober peers in the area who can support them in their sobriety. A GPS locator interface also facilitates in-person meet-ups (if desired).

The app also allows users to remain anonymous if they prefer, and reportedly gives them access to a whole global network of other people in sobriety so that even when traveling, users can enjoy the app’s benefits.


12 Steps AA Companion

12 Steps AA Companion is a very inexpensive mobile app marketed as “the original and most comprehensive sobriety tool available for members of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Users can access an unabbreviated mobile version of the “Big Book,” including a search tool for favorite quotes and a useful device for taking notes. A “sobriety calculator” reminds you how long you’ve been sober every time you open the app, and an extensive contact database keeps you connected to others in AA.


Robert Parkinson is director of client care at Beach House Center for Recovery, a drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation center in Juno Beach, Fla.

Image at top of post courtesy of Shutterstock.