Recovery Apps: The 12 Best Apps to Use While in Recovery

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Recovery: there’s an app for that.

Seriously, though, there is – or rather, there are.

While no app can do the work of recovery for you – that’s a personal commitment – an abundance of apps available today can help you on your recovery journey. In the same way an app can help you track exercise, general health, heart health, eating/dieting, finances, scheduling, growing plants in your garden, or keep track of the myriad goals and/or pursuits you may have, it’s important for people in recovery to know apps exist that can help them manage their recovery. Apps can provide valuable assistance in keeping track of recovery-related tasks, appointments, meetings, and any recovery-related activities.

In this article, we’ll offer a brief description of the recovery apps we think are worthwhile. However, before we begin, we offer a disclaimer. Although initial evidence on the effectiveness of recovery apps is promising, there has not been an extensive amount of research on the practical impact of these apps on people in recovery. To date, there is preliminary evidence that recovery apps can help people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) reduce days of drinking, preliminary evidence can help people with eating disorders, and preliminary evidence that apps for people with opioid use disorder.

However, we can put this scant data in context: users indicate their openness to using smartphone apps in recovery, and report that the ease and convenience of recovery support – immediately available in the palm of their hand – would be a welcome addition to their recovery journey, and likely increase their chances of a successful recovery.

What’s in an App? Components of Effective Recovery Apps

The article “Review of Mobile Apps for Prevention and Management of Opioid-Related Harm,” published in the book “Improving Usability, Safety and Patient Outcomes with Health Information Technology: From Research to Practice” identifies key features that make recovery-oriented self-help apps effective and worthwhile. While the article focused on apps for people with opioid use disorder (OUD), these features are common to all recovery apps that receive approval from both people in recovery and addiction treatment providers.

Recovery Apps: Key Features

Multimedia, Educational Content

  • The best apps include video, audio, or text resources with helpful, informative content on topics including the science of addiction, relapse management, warning signs of overdose, what to do in case of overdose, as well as inspirational and motivational messaging.

Sobriety Trackers

  • Many apps allow users to track the time they’ve been sober or in recovery, down to the hour. This feature helps remind people in recovery of the progress they’ve made so far, and can help motivate them to stay in recovery, on their program, and committed to the lifelong healing process.

Medication, Meeting, and Appointment Trackers

  • Some apps allow people in recovery to manage medication with timely reminders, manage scheduling for peer support meetings, medical appointments, and appointments with addiction counselors and/or psychiatrists.

Peer and Community Support

  • Some peer and community support groups host apps that help people in recovery find meetings near them. 12-step peer support is an important component of the recovery journey, especially after completing a formal treatment program. For some people in recovery, these groups are essential. Apps hosted by 12-step groups not only help people find meetings close by, but offer access to articles, motivational messages, and tips to help them make it through each day, one day at a time – and sometimes, one hour at a time.

Habit Trackers

  • Many apps help people in recovery keep track of lifestyle changes that support recovery, such as healthy eating, healthy sleep, exercise, and other self-care essentials. Habit trackers may focus on one thing – like food or exercise, for instance – or they may focus on a wide range of habits and activities that support recovery.

Relapse Prevention and Management

  • There are apps that are akin to “in case of emergency, break glass” that offer people in acute need tips and advice to manage risk of relapse in the moment, and help people in recovery make it through hard situations until they can get to a meeting, call a sponsor, find support, or the challenging moment passes.

Directories and Maps

  • These simple apps apply map technology to use current location to find the closest 12-step meeting, treatment center, or emergency support services.

Gaming Features

  • Several apps use features from video games to help people have fun and stay engaged in the recovery process.

Those are the features that make an app work: usability, practicality, and connectivity. In the next section, we’ll review our top choices for effective recovery apps that give people in recovery the best chance of staying on their program.

Recovery Apps You Can Start Using Today

We scanned the internet, our professional resources, and our peers in recovery to create this list of recovery apps that can help people grow, thrive, maintain control of their lives, and reduce risk of relapse to alcohol or drug use.

Top 12 Recovery Apps: Stay Connected, Stay in Recovery

  1. I Am Sober

  • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
  • Cost: Basic app is free. Membership fees required for enhanced content.
  • Features:
    • Recovery time tracking down to the minute.
    • Personalization options.
    • Includes motivational messages.
    • Options to track other things, such as money saved during recovery, or calories avoided by not drinking alcohol.
    • Connection to community message board
  • Excellent for people early in recovery
  1. Pear reSET-O

  • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
  • Cost: Free
  • Important: Requires prescription
  • Features:
    • This is the only recovery app approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    • Includes a 12-week addiction counseling program, based on principle of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT
    • Includes once-a-week check in with real therapist
  • Designed for people currently in outpatient treatment programs
  • Early evidence shows this app may be most beneficial for patients with opioid use disorder (OUD)
  1. SoberWorx

  • Compatibility: Android
  • Cost: Free
  • Features: SoberWorx functions as a directory that helps people in recovery find and connect to:
    • Treatment centers
    • Sober living facilities
    • Addiction therapists
    • Addiction counselors
  • The evidence we cite above on the effectiveness of apps for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) was from a study on SoberWorx users
  1. Recovery Today Magazine

    • Compatibility: Android
    • Cost: Free
    • Features:
      • Access to a near-unlimited supply of recovery content from Recovery Today Magazine.
      • Content includes inspirational stories, practical recovery tips, expert articles, and evidence-based scientific content
  1. 24 Hours a Day

    • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
    • Cost: $5.99
    •  Features:
      • This is an app based on the bestselling book by Richard Walker called “24 Hours a Day,” which is the number one selling addiction recovery book after the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Big Book.
      • Includes daily meditations for inspiration and support
      • Can program app to send recovery-themed reflection every day
      • Can search entire app/book via keyword
      • Makes it easy to share/send reflections to friends/peers
  1. Recovery Box

    • Compatibility: iPhone
    • Cost: Free
    • Features:
      • 12-step based
      • Recovery calculator
      • Personal inventory prompts
      • In-app sponsorship
      • Includes chat option with recovery peers
      • Includes readings from AA sources and peer recovery stories
  1. Nomo

    • Compatibility: iPhone
    • Cost: Free
    • Features:
      • Sobriety tracker/clock
      • Tracks important recovery milestones and streaks
      • Enable people in recovery to record and share important events in the recovery journey with friends, family, and peers
    • Designed not only for people in recovery, but also for family members of people in recovery
  1. WEconnect

    • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
    • Cost: Free, some features require fee
    • Features:
      • Sobriety and meeting attendance trackers
      • Multiple virtual meeting every day
      • Promotes self-care through easy-to-use calendar tools
      • Includes meetings on special topics such as harm reduction
      • Includes meetings for specific demographics, such as women in recovery or members of the LGBTQIA+ community
      • Therapists and counselors can track progress through app
    • Most often used in conjunction with a specific treatment center or program, but available for people not currently in formal treatment
  1. SoberTool

    • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
    • Cost: Free, some features require fee
    • Features:
      • Created by a Harvard-educated addiction professional
      • Includes a tool that helps manage cravings as they’re happening
      • Helps you identify why the craving is happening, which can be an excellent tool for relapse prevention.
      • Can track money saved since starting recovery
      • Creates rewards for achieving recovery goals
      • Easy to set up to receive daily messages for inspiration and motivation
    • Users report this app is an excellent relapse prevention tool
  1. Quitzilla

    • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
    • Cost: Free
      • Features:
        • Tracking tools
        • Goal setting tools
        • Motivational/inspirational quotes and stories
        • Enables users to set up rewards for desired behavior
        • Leads with your “reason why” at the top of the screen
    • In addition to promoting recovery, Quitzilla can help users break other unwanted habits
  2. AA Big Book Free: For Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

    • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
    • Cost: Free
    •  Features:
      • Meeting finder
      • Sobriety tracker
      • Motivational content
      • Podcasts
      • Personal stories and testimonials
      • Free access to The AA Big Book
      • Allows users to mark and share passages from the Big Book
      • Allows users to take notes alongside Big Book content
    • It’s impossible to overstate the importance of AA in modern recovery. AA created the 12-step approach to recovery, and gave people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) hope for themselves, their lives, and their future, when the medical establishment and most laypeople considered alcohol addiction a character flaw or moral failing\
  3. Loosid

    • Compatibility: iPhone or Android
    • Cost: Free, some feature require fee
    • Features:
      • Direct connection to local recovery peers
      • Includes educational/inspirational video and audio content
      • Can use either to build recovery community, or as a recovery-friendly dating app
      • Focuses on finding fun while in recovery
      • Includes list of recovery friendly social events in your area
    • Strong emphasis on building community – but you’re required to sign up with your real name, which means that, unlike AA and other peer support systemts, Loosid is not an anonymous community

For people stepping down or discharging from a formal treatment program, using an app from this list can be an important part of a robust aftercare plan. Anything that helps a person in recovery stay connect to recovery peers, stay on their program, and gives them virtually instant access to help and support can be incredibly valuable. When your sponsor is not available, and you can’t reach your therapist or counselor, a recovery app may be exactly what you need to prevent, or reduce the likelihood of relapse.

One More Thing: A Therapy App

In the list above, we focused on recovery apps only. However, we also urge anyone in recovery to consider a general mental health app such as BetterHelp. This app is compatible with iPhone and Android. It connects users to a large network of affordable therapists. You can engage in therapy via chat, telephone, or video conference: you choose what works best for you. All therapists are fully licensed and qualified professionals, and can help with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others.

Since many patients with an alcohol or substance use disorder (ADU/SUD) also have a co-occurring mental health disorder, this app can help provide the additional support necessary to heal and recover from both addiction and a mental health disorder: evidence shows that when a person engages in treatment for both – rather than one or the other, or one and then the other –  outcomes improve, and likelihood of long-term, sustainable recovery increases.

The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.