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A new way to network for the recovery community

January 20, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A California treatment organization devises an app for 12-Step participants

Add the omnipresent “app” to the language of recovery.

Users of the iPhone now have access to an application that can schedule reminders to contact a sponsor or sponsee, create a convenient list of recovery community contacts, and offer a link to crisis services. 12 Step Sponsor Dial is the brainchild of staff members at KLEAN, a West Hollywood, Calif., treatment organization that is less than a year old and opened its treatment center just a couple of months ago.

“I sponsor a couple of girls, and I’m very busy, and I was complaining to my boss that there should be an app to keep track of when my sponsees will call,” says Heather Edney, KLEAN’s chief marketing officer. She, the facility’s CEO and a colleague in business development would end up brainstorming the idea and then hiring the “kids” who designed the app. It became available just over the past few weeks.

There is a marketing aspect to KLEAN’s venture, as the feature includes a link to the treatment organization’s toll-free number that connects to its call center. But Edney says that has been downplayed in favor of creating something of value to the larger recovering community, particularly its younger cohort.

“We’re all in recovery here, so we were thoughtful about what would be good for the community,” Edney says. Individuals can tap into a hot dial feature to call their sponsor, or maintain an easily accessible list of AA contacts separate from their main address book. A Blackberry version will be available soon.

Edney acknowledges that a few people have been less than complimentary about the new technological offering, with some suggesting that it constitutes a form of enabling. That notion leaves her puzzled. “It doesn’t do your step work for you,” she says. “It isn’t going to make you closer to your Higher Power.”

The planning team already is working on another app with greater sophistication. Edney explains that with this one, users will be able to enter a zip code and find the locations of nearby 12-Step meetings in their area at that time of day, with GPS technology to point the way.