“Sober Grid is the largest social media network for people in, or seeking recovery from, Substance Use Disorder (SUD)” says Beau Mann, founder of the app in 2015.
Beau’s story starts like many stories of SUD; high school age drinking to excess, and an escalation from there. At 24 years old he sought professional help and after many successes and failures he got on top of things. Getting on top of things is the first fight, staying on top of them is another battle in itself; the struggle never truly dies.
A few years ago at Sundance Film Festival, he was looking to find sober people in the area to socialise with and realised there was a gap in the Social Networking market. Why was there no app for people in recovery to not only find each other, but support one another? So, through his sheer will, and after input from experts in the field, Sober Grid was born. Peer support in your pocket. Anywhere, anytime. Mann says “addiction is a nightmare to go through. It is also deadly, and to be part of creating a vehicle that helps people get sober and get back on track when they fall down is a gift from god.”
I use Sober Grid. The app is a safe place where people battling similar demons can come together, share their stories and celebrate triumphs; as well as support people through the tough times. It’s basically Facebook for addicts. This helped me so much. The support I received was overwhelming. It also gave me the opportunity to help others in crisis, which is, in itself, therapeutic. One of the features is a ‘burning desire’ button to alert users you’re in crisis and this allows others to provide much needed care and support. Many times, in crisis I have received lifesaving support and even one time I and a local member were in crisis at the same time and we got on the phone to one another and talked ourselves out of using. Similarly, I’ve come across those with similar vices as me and I have used my experiences to offer support via the app.
For those of us suffering addiction without a clear idea of what to do about it, the app offers a starting point for recovery. Sober Grid was the support system I never knew I had until I stumbled across it. Somewhere we can share our stories and realize we are not alone. What people who don’t suffer SUD may not understand is how all-consuming and compelling urges are. Without support, it’s virtually impossible to resist. This is why Sober Grid is such an important tool. It’s right there in your pocket whenever you need it, in a way that works for you.
I’m not a 12 step program kind of guy, it does not work for me. Sober Grid is recovery neutral: it encourages members not to push their methods of recovery onto other people. “Recovery is a long process that encompasses people taking different paths. I believe that our platform is such a needed space because the Sober Grid family is comprised of members from a variety of programs that is open minded and shows many paths to get, and stay, sober” according to Mann.
Stigma is a big barrier impeding recovery, and it impeded mine. Society still sees addiction as a character, or moral, flaw which makes us feel so ashamed that we are afraid to seek help. I felt this stigma. I suffer depression and anxiety, and I have always been open about my mental illness, yet I felt ashamed about my addiction. Sober Grid, by design, helps to break down that barrier. When asked about stigma, Mann said: “I think stigma still exists, but I and others are working towards combating stigma. I think successful, smart and well known public figures coming out as having SUD will help break stigma bit by bit”. We have seen this with such celebrities such as Tom Hardy and Daniel Radcliffe.
When asked where he sees Sober Grid in the future, Mann said: “I see Sober Grid growing to be millions of users and using big data to help with research for treatments and causes of addiction.”
What has been created here is not only a community, but a community with hope. Mann’s continued advocacy on this issue will not go unnoticed.