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The Latest (and Best) Sober Apps

Craving recovery and can’t make it to a meeting? Wanting a pick-me-up or at least a quiet space where you can tune out the world? Let these apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android and more bridge the gaps.

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By Laura Vogel

01/17/11

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Though technology seems cold at times, ones and zeros can actually come together to help you work the 12 steps. These apps (all downloadable, all under five bucks) can help you out until you make it to a meeting—and may actually help you find one.

1) 12 Steps AA Companion: $2.99

Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch; Android

The Big Kahuna of recovery apps, the 12 Steps AA Companion includes the first 164 pages of the Big Book and over 60 stories from the first and second editions—great for book study meetings or just to keep you from spinning out when someone you’re supposed to meet is keeping you waiting. It has a sobriety calculator that shows you all the time you’ve accrued every time you open the app (nothing like positive reinforcement), includes a huge range of prayers and promises from throughout the Big Book and allows you to take notes and access contact information for local General Service offices.

2) iPromises Recovery Companion: Free

Platform: iPhone

Malibu-based Promises rehab has just released its own iPhone app for rehab alums and non-alums alike and—much like the tony treatment center—it has some fairly sophisticated features, including a way for you to monitor your triggers, keep a visual journal, phone your sponsor with one click, receive daily inspirational messages, and share and maintain a calendar of meetings. It even has a GPS so you can “check in” at meetings the way you would on Foursquare and share about your favorite recovery get-togethers as well as track down top meetings while traveling. 

3) Afternoon Affirmations: Free

Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Sure there are recovery sites out there that will shoot you a “morning reflection” text or email but by the middle of the day, who’s to say you won’t be jonesing for a serious spiritual pick-me-up? That’s where Afternoon Affirmations, a creation of InTheRooms.com, shines. Every day at 1 P.M., this app sends you an affirmation with the intention to, its creators say, “calm the soul.” The content is a mixture of uplifting quotations and practical, grounding reminders designed to keep the perturbing aspects of life in perspective.

4) The AA App: $1.49

Platform: Android

Close in content to the 12 Steps AA Companion, this app includes the first edition of the Big Book, a sobriety calculator, daily inspirations, a gratitude list generator, and a nationwide meeting finder. Where it goes above and beyond the Companion is in its hundreds of AA speaker podcasts and 12 & 12 discussion forums—which provide instant access to hard-core discussions about the program.

5) 12-Step: Free

Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Super basic and eminently useful, 12-Step can guide you to the recovery meeting of your choice, including those that you may not have known existed: from Emotions Anonymous to Nicotine Anonymous to Co-Dependents Anonymous to the more basic drinking-drugs-food-sex ones, there’s something for pretty much everyone with an “ism.” It also uses your device’s internal GPS (this isn’t applicable on the iPod Touch) and displays a map, address and contact phone number for the meeting (as well as your distance from it).

6) Steps Away: Meeting Finder: Free

Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad; Android

With a database of literally hundreds of thousands of 12-step meetings—including those in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia—Steps Away is the closest thing sober people have to a worldwide directory. It has an über-simple interface and, as long as you don’t mind a bit of marketing (the A&E Recovery Project and various recovery centers flash ads on the top and bottom of the pages), is the most straightforward app on the market.

7) AA Speakers to Go; $4.99

Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad; Android

Love sitting in a folding chair and listening to a tale of down-in-the-gutter tragedy followed by shocking triumph but can’t make it to a meeting? AA Speakers to Go is the answer. It comes pre-loaded with over 400 speaker tapes dating from the 1930s through today. You can also download workshops like, say, a Big Book study recorded at the Nashville “Music City Roundup” and special presentations such as AA oral histories from international conventions.

8) White Noise Lite: Free 

Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad; Android; Blackberry

Though not explicitly a recovery app, White Noise Lite is perfect for meditation—or just tuning out the world when it all gets to be a bit much. In a busy office with a never-satisfied boss and need a five-minute break to get centered? Slip on your earbuds and chill out to rainstorms, beach waves, chirping crickets and other sounds that are probably nothing like the constant haranguing you may be escaping. And this is probably the only app that actually assists you with your step work: users report that using it helped ease them into practicing the 11th step in a decidedly non-“om” way.

9) My Daily Journal: $1.99 

Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Another app that isn’t exclusively 12-step-related but can nevertheless be a sober person’s best friend, My Daily Journal allows you to export files as PDFs through email and backup and restore files through DropBox, which makes it perfect for fourth-step work or general recovery writing. Added bonus: all of your writing is searchable by words or phrases.

10) AA Speaker Tapes by Anonymous AA Member: Free

Platforms: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Though not an app, this benevolently created resource is a treasure trove: a huge (301 and counting) list of free AA speaker tapes that you can listen to directly from iTunes or download onto your Apple device whenever you like. The only downside? Recordings aren’t organized except by the first name of the speaker and the location where the talk was given so you might have to do some scanning to find one you like. Bad coffee, uncomfortable chairs, and hideous florescent lighting not included.

Laura Vogel is a Los Angeles–based writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Elle, Real Simple, Travel+Leisure and The New York Post, among other publications and websites. 

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