It is safe to assume that if you have a song composed in your honor by none other than Richie Supa, best known for his work with Aerosmith and with Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, there is probably a very noteworthy reason behind it. Before turning his attention to writing a song, a songwriter of Mr. Supa’s calibre must find inspiration from something that ignites passion and touches the heart in a profound way. Indeed, that is exactly what InTheRooms.com, the largest free online social network for the global recovery community, has done for more than six years for Richie Supa and for over 349,000 people in recovery from addiction.
If you are in recovery from addiction yourself, in search of help or have a family member or friend seeking support, then InTheRooms.com is the place for you. This site is one of the most revolutionary and forward-thinking tools available to the recovery community in the world. Its founders, Ron Tannebaum and Kenny Pomerance, otherwise known as RT and Mr. Clean, have themselves each been in recovery for over 31 years. You won’t find anyone more passionate, proactive and open regarding recovery and their experiences.
Ron and Kenny first met at the University of Florida in Gainesville around 1971 and have been close friends ever since. The idea for InTheRooms.com came about when Kenny asked what Ron thought about a Facebook-type site for the recovery community. Ron thought it was a fantastic idea. They immediately began developing the project. InTheRooms.com was launched on October 6, 2008.
It was Bill Wilson, cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who predicted that technology would play a major role in the future of recovering people. In a November 1960 Grapevine article, Bill wrote, “Nothing matters more to AA’s future welfare than the manner in which we use the colossus of modern communication. Used unselfishly and well, it can produce results surpassing our present imagination.” I doubt if even Bill could have foreseen that hundreds of thousands of people around the globe could one day find recovery with the click of a button.
Most people Ron and Kenny spoke with believed they would never surpass 10,000 members. By all accounts, their friends said it was a bad idea – or at best, a well-meaning, passionate project that would never get off the ground. However, they thought differently. They remained focused and driven despite the naysayers.
As recovering people themselves, Ron and Kenny believed that if they were excited about such a website being available, then other recovering people might be, too. They did, indeed, surpass the 10,000 members mark; and people kept coming. The site now has a worldwide audience with a membership exceeding 349,000 people from 136 countries.
Since its launch in 2008, InTheRooms.com has become the most trafficked recovery online social network in the world. With a total collective recovery time of 1,503,679 years, it would be rare to find elsewhere such abundance of recovery experience, strength and hope in one place, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
At the 15th Annual Prism Awards in 2011, the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the FX Network, presented InTheRooms.com with the coveted President’s Award for “outstanding accomplishment in accurate depiction of substance abuse and mental health disorders, prevention, treatment and recovery in film, television, interactive, comic book, music and DVD entertainment.”
So, why is this free online social network for the global recovery community such a big deal? InTheRooms.com offers over 100 live, online recovery meetings each week, covering everything from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders and family support meetings. Ron and Kenny have also developed free iPhone and android apps, both of which have direct access to these online meetings. In addition, there is a global geo-locatable meeting finder, a free Afternoon Affirmations iPhone app sent out to members daily at 1:00 pm EST. There is an extensive recorded speaker library with thousands of speakers to choose from and a free newsletter sent out every Wednesday to every member.
If that is not impressive enough, you can choose to have a daily e-meditation delivered to your inbox every morning at 5:00 am EST. To further enhance your recovery, you can attend Philly T.’s (Ron’s wife) wonderful live, online group meditation at 9:00 pm EST every Wednesday. Tommy Rosen’s 2.0 Power Hour meets every Tuesday at 10:00 pm EST. Each week, Tommy has inspirational guest speakers, such as Chris Grosso, otherwise known as the Indie Spiritualist, and Nikki Myers, founder of Yoga of 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR). Others share their extensive experience, knowledge and experience in the recovery, spiritual and yogic fields.
The InTheRooms.com mantra is Help, Inform, Touch, Connect, Heal (HITCH); and that is exactly what it provides for many recovering people. It is not a replacement for face-to-face Twelve Step meetings and the fellowship we find in actual recovery rooms. As Ron said, “Our vision was to socially transcend the boundaries of all Twelve Step fellowships, while maintaining the integrity of each by having 29 different [Twelve Step] fellowships represented on [InTheRooms.com].”
The website has indisputably provided a lifeline to many people when they had nowhere else to turn. For those who have no other access to meetings, fellowship or any other addiction recovery due to illness, being homebound or not having a group in their area, it has truly been a lifesaving project.
The overall positive feedback from members has been astounding, and the virtual fellowship experience is incredible. The sense of connection has made the world of recovery a much smaller place; it has made the fellowship of addicts much wider and more available.
Those who have not tried it may be dubious, but it is clear that the response to InTheRooms.com is very different than the negative press often generated about other social networking sites. As the site promotes and encourages a successful life in recovery, the message is a positive one.
The InTheRooms.com documentary, Love, Recovery, created by Rehab Productions in conjunction with ReachOutRecovery.com, gives a touching behind-the-scenes look at the vision, development, launch and ongoing nurturing of the site; and how it has transcended into a groundbreaker in the world of recovery. Experience for yourself why hundreds of thousands of people log on every day.
Nicola O’Hanlon is a writer who has been in recovery for over five years. She has written for InTheRooms.com and After Party Magazine. Her work has also been published in Psychology Today and psyweb.com. Based in Ireland, Nicola is currently working on her own recovery website-based e-magazine aimed at Irish readers to help break the stigma and shame surrounding addiction and mental health issues.