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Finding a 12 step meeting on your phone…There’s an app for that!

Access 12 step meetings any time of day or night

Wecovery is a mobile app that hopes to address the needs of recovering addicts at any time from anywhere. A recovering addict in need of a meeting can use the app to share about their current situation just as they would in a 12 step meeting. Then, they can choose to listen to other addicts’ shares and relate to them, reminding them that they are not alone.

To learn more, we have invited Brandon Purcell, the innovator behind the Wecovery app (Twitter @realwerecovery), to share his knowledge on the usage of this app and how it can work to meet the needs of an advancing technology market. At the end of this interview, if you have any additional questions for Brandon, or want to leave a comment, please use the section at the bottom of the page. We try to respond to all questions or comments with a personal, prompt reply.

ADDICTION BLOG: Why do you think that people can’t or don’t get to a face-to-face 12 step meeting? How did you see a need for an app in the first place?

WECOVERY: There are many reasons folks can’t or don’t make it to meetings.

I went to rehab in the South and many of my brothers and sisters in recovery live rural areas have to drive over 100 miles just to make it to a meeting. Others, like myself, who live in areas teeming with recovery can’t always make it to meetings, often when we need one the most. When I’m busiest at work and at my most stressed out, I’m not going to be able to take over an hour out of my day to get to a meeting. But I can take 10 minutes to use the Wecovery app to share and listen to others with similar struggles.

Then, there are the people who are too shy or scared to attend an in-person meeting because they don’t want to be seen entering the back door of a church, or they are terrified of speaking in front of large groups. I can relate to these people, because I used to be one of them. I’m hoping Wecovery will remove a barrier for them so they can get introduced to the power of the 12 steps. And maybe one day, they will feel comfortable enough to walk in the door.

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I think technology has a huge potential to help people stay sober. There are quite a few other apps focused on recovery, and some of them are very helpful. None of them, however, allow us to capture the essence of a meeting on our phones so we can access it any time. This is the idea behind Wecovery.

ADDICTION BLOG: How many people do you estimate cannot or do not attend 12 step meetings at the moment?

WECOVERY: According to facingaddiction.org, there are 23 million Americans currently living in recovery. Add to that another 22 million Americans still suffering from the disease of addiction, and you have 55 million people who could use Wecovery to help them stay sober. That’s 17% of this country’s population or almost 1 in 6 people. And, since addiction is a global disease, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people around the world. Even people who attend meetings regularly can’t always make it to one when they need it, so the number of people this could potentially help is huge.

ADDICTION BLOG: What association will the app have with 12 step national or international service offices? How open are these groups to helping support and disseminate the app?

WECOVERY: This app will not be affiliated with any of the 12 step national or international service offices, just as churches and other meeting venues are not affiliated with specific fellowships. Wecovery is a free venue for meetings, albeit a virtual one.

ADDICTION BLOG: How many people do you envision using the app? How often?

WECOVERY: The addiction recovery community is extremely tightly knit and word of mouth travels fast, especially about a sobriety tool as useful as Wecovery. I anticipate early adoption of the app in San Francisco and New York where people are already aware of it, and in many cases eagerly anticipating it. Eventually, I think it will roll out across the country and hopefully the globe with millions of users around the world sharing their stories.

People may find it useful to use the app as part of their morning practice. It may also make sense to share at the end of the day as a verbal 10th step. Most importantly, I hope people use the app when they are in triggering situations so it can help to break the addictive cycle and keep them sober in those crucial moments.

ADDICTION BLOG: How will people be sharing? Audio? Video? Both?

WECOVERY: Audio.

ADDICTION BLOG: How will shares be classified? For example, will meetings have a certain theme?

WECOVERY: To start, people will be able to select their primary addiction(s). They will then be able to filter shares so they can hear shares from other folks suffering with the same thing. Eventually, we may build out a more robust classification system, but for starters we want to “Keep it simple.”

ADDICTION BLOG: How will the community be safe? What kinds of moderation or administration will be in place? Are the conversations in the app under full privacy and anonymity?

WECOVERY: Like in other 12 step fellowships, anonymity is the spiritual foundation for Wecovery. For this reason, addicts do not need to give their full names or any other personally identifiable information to sign up. We only ask for a valid email address to protect against bots.

This community will be self-policed, meaning that people will be able to flag shares that have inappropriate content or “cross talk.” Flagged shares will be reviewed by the folks at Wecovery and taken down if they are in violation of the community’s basic rules.

Finally, some people may be concerned about their voices being recognizable. We plan to offer a voice modifier to alleviate this apprehension.

ADDICTION BLOG: Can users report users that are using this app for promotion of their products or services?

WECOVERY: Absolutely. We are counting on the community to self-police.

ADDICTION BLOG: What is the revenue model for this app? If revenue is not a goal, is the project fully non-profit?

WECOVERY: The primary motivation behind Wecovery is to help as many people stay sober as possible. For this reason, we do not plan to charge users for the app (we started an Indiegogo campaign for Wecovery). In order to pay for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the service, we plan to give health service providers specializing in field of addiction the opportunity to advertise on our platform.

ADDICTION BLOG: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

WECOVERY: I anticipate there being some backlash from people who think this is a threat to in person meetings. I want to be very clear: This is in no way meant to replace in person meetings. Nothing can replace the magic that happens when a group of addicts get together in a room and share from their hearts.

Wecovery is meant to supplement people’s recovery programs, and to offer an option for folks who can’t make it to a meeting when they really need one. If you would like to learn more, please check out our website: www.wecovery.org or YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnRhwmmisRg

Photo credit: Wiki Media Commons

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One Response to “Finding a 12 step meeting on your phone…There’s an app for that!
Janeen
4:44 am August 24th, 2015

The Wecovery app seems like an excellent idea. I am a freelance journalist in South Florida and many of my interviewees struggle with an alcohol or drug addiction. Currently, apps are very popular and convenient for fast access to information. The Wecovery app seems both discrete and supportive of those in recovery that are not able to attend AA meetings. I will definitely share this app with my interviews in recovery. Thanks for sharing!

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