Pulling from his own experience of addiction and recovery, Brian McAlister knows the hardest times to stay sober are when the meetings are over and the sponsor isn't around.
That’s what inspired him to create the Freedom 365 Virtual Recovery System, which he touts as a first-of-its-kind digital solution to addiction.
The app begins with a 28-day interactive program that guides the user through a series of self-reflective activities specially designed to uncover the root of his or her addiction issues. Individuals view a daily video and answer a series of related questions, plus participate in several other daily exercises.
Features of the app include more than 500 inspirational videos, an interactive goal-setting system and personal recovery progress tracker, a personal “gratitude library” designed to interrupt negative thoughts, meeting locator and ready access to doctors and other support.
“Only 4 percent of the people who need addiction treatment are receiving it,” said McAlister, who runs Full Recovery Wellness Center in Fairfield. “Those who do, 80 percent relapse within the first month; 90 percent within six months. That really doesn’t work. Now people can at least have something in their hand 24 hours a day to move forward out of the cycle of misery that they’re in.”
The app isn’t just for the benefit of the user, but also for addiction facilities that incur a cost of $5,000 whenever a new patient comes in, but then only get 17 percent of them to return upon relapse.
“Facilities that are using our product, the first day when someone comes into our treatment centers, they log into this product. By the time they leave they’re already in the habit of using it,” he said.
When a patient leaves a facility, staff set up a HIPAA-compliant system to track their use of the app.
“It helps the client because it could interrupt a relapse before it happens,” McAlister said. “This gives a treatment center the chance to stay in touch with their clients, and now the staff at the center aren’t wasting time contacting people who need to be contacted.”
The app, which is available via web browser and will be released on the Android store this week, costs $295 for a yearlong subscription.
“When you look at it from a cost perspective, it can be over $1,000 a day at a facility. This is literally 80 cents a day,” McAlister said.
The app will be available in the Apple store within the next few weeks.