When I got sober, I was 19 years old. I had pink hair, a nose ring and worked at a tattoo shop. During my early years of sobriety, I went to many young people’s meetings and events. I worked very hard just to stay sober one day at a time.
Today, over nine years later, I work fulltime in telemedicine. I am also planning my wedding and setting up my life to eventually bring children into the world. My plate is full of very grown-up stuff. I have been able to stabilize my life in a way that I could not have fathomed when I first got sober. However, for many years, I continued to follow the same practices I utilized in early sobriety. To some extent, I had the same program at one year sober as I had at five years sober. In technological terms, this is similar to having an original iPhone and never uploading the latest software updates. To stay sober, many of us simply kept doing the same thing we did in the beginning, assuming “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
As a Certified Relapse Prevention Specialist, I work with people to develop an upgraded recovery plan that fits their current recovery needs. To effectively accomplish this, I had to first take a good look at my own program, which itself needed some upgrades. To implement these improvements, I used a tech tool called Lionrock App. Here are the five recovery modernizations I made:
- Exercising burns off the crazy . . . I mean . . . calories: The Lionrock App allows me to schedule my workouts in the calendar with a date, time, location and photo to create a check-in. I schedule my yoga, running or gym workouts on the calendar and receive a text notification ten minutes before my commitment. I then click the check-in link, take the selfie. The app then uploads a geotagged photo of me at yoga, the gym or running. There is also a journal function; I can write how I am feeling as I do the check-in or maybe make a gratitude list. The check-in shows up in the calendar with a little Google map of where I was when I took the picture.
- Meeting makers make it: I’ve been getting away with one to two meetings per week, but I really need three meetings. In order to keep me accountable, I pick my meetings at the beginning of the week, schedule them in my Lionrock App calendar and do a check-in using the text message reminder that notifies me ten minutes before the meeting. I can include topics to write about in my app journal. For example, I might write a couple of sentences about my intention for the day or for the meeting. The check-in reminder text message can also act as a mini-step-work session.
- Who has time for self care, anyway? If I don’t plan for it, it won’t happen – while working hard is important, so is taking good care of myself. Most of us find this out the hard way. I schedule appropriate amounts of time into my app where I can participate in self-caring acts, like a pedicure, bubble bath, movie or massage. Believe it or not, when I schedule such events and then check in with a photo of the movie or my polished toes, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. In addition, the app allows me to share what I’m doing with a small group of friends who are also using the same app. They can see my check-ins if I choose. That way, I feel more supported.
- Sponsorship: Because the Lionrock App allows me to be part of a group of people who can see whatever check-ins I make visible to them, we are able to hold each other accountable to our weekly goals. Our sponsors may be included in the group. If I am putting too much on my plate or if I am struggling with blocks of idle time, my sponsor can call me on it. She can see whether or not I am sticking to my own self-care goals. This has helped me tremendously.
- The meeting after the meeting: I have friends in recovery whom I see on social media. However, it’s unlikely they will share the details of their recovery goals and struggles so publicly. Another great thing about the Lionrock App is that it has its own built-in social network. This gives my recovery friends and me a way to support each other without letting everyone on Facebook know that after I ate three cookies, I went to the gym feeling guilty. I might not share that information by texting a group of friends or by putting it on Facebook, but I would write it in the app for my group; so I am able to get support in real time. Knowing that I have supportive friends in recovery who help me stay accountable has increased my recovery progress.
Now it’s your turn. Pick five upgrades you are going to make to your recovery this summer and share your experiences with me at email@example.com. I will share one of your stories in the Fall 2015 issue.
Ashley Loeb grew up in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom. She is a cofounder of a tech startup called Lionrock Recovery, a Joint Commission accredited online substance abuse treatment center. In recovery herself, Loeb is passionate about sharing her experience, strength and hope with others. While she enjoys what she describes as “a life beyond her wildest dreams,” Loeb lives in Southern California with her husband and two large dogs.