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New Social Apps Help People Meet, Date and Stay Sober

If you’re in recovery, you already know that quitting drinking doesn’t mean quitting fun. In fact, sobriety can lead to a much bigger and more colorful social calendar.

The problem is that social networks like Facebook and dating apps, which have revolutionized the way we socialize and date, can be challenging and even alienate non-drinkers. After all, the standard ask-out line on dating apps is “want to grab a drink?”

Leveraging Technology

A new wave of sober social apps, Sober Grid, Clean Fun Network and Sober, are setting out to make the online territory a lot easier for non-drinkers to navigate. These apps also spare you the discomfort of revealing your own addiction struggles in an increasingly transparent digital world.

“When you’re on Facebook, you’re surrounded by friends, family and coworkers,” Sober Grid co-founder Nick Krasucki told NBC News.

“It’s not exactly a place where you can be open about your sobriety and recovery and the struggles that go along with that.”

Lemons to Lemonade

Like many people in recovery, the creator of Clean Fun Network, Jimmy Hamm, initially feared that quitting drinking would be the end of his social life. “I’m in my late twenties and thinking, ‘My life is going to be over,'” he said. “This is how it’s going to be—sitting in church basements, listening to people talk about trying to stay sober.”

After getting sober in 2007, Hamm’s life was far from over. He began organizing summer beach trips for people in the recovery community. Earlier this year, he launched the Clean Fun Network (CFN), a social network where non-drinkers can connect, meet up, and sign up for trips to places like Costa Rica and Yellowstone National Park.

CFN is currently web-based, but is launching for iOs and Android users in the next few weeks. The app is not exclusively for people in 12-step recovery, but for anyone who wants to have “some good, clean fun,” he said.

“I couldn’t imagine getting through a summer without drinking and partying,” Claire, 27, tells “But I went to Montauk with CFN when I was newly sober, and I had the best time. I met tons of people. I wasn’t hungover. It was a lifesaver.”

Love is in the Digital Air

What about sober people looking for romance? Don’t worry; there’s an app for that, too!

  • Aptly called “Sober,” this social app has a swiping function like Tinder (swipe right for yes, left for no thanks) and is specifically geared towards the sober community. It also includes a helpline number and a feature to connect users with the nearest detox center.
  • Another new app called Sober Grid can help its users find romance, but the founders emphasize it’s not exclusively intended for this purpose. In fact, its main goal is to help people connect and support each other’s sobriety. A smart geographic function allows users find people to meet up with in their cities or neighborhoods, while the “Burning Desire” button turns a user’s profile red to let people know they are in extra need of support. The Sober Grid app has been downloaded more than 30,000 times by people in 40 countries.

“If I see someone struggling, I like to reach out,” said Mario Diurno, organizer of the upcoming UNITE to Face Addiction rally in Washington. “That’s how I stay sober, too. It helps me think about somebody other than myself, plus I get to help another person. We both benefit.”

Nothing Can Replace Treatment

None of the apps above are meant to take the place of drug treatment programs or meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and SmartRecovery. They simply help sober users expand and enrich their social lives.

And wouldn’t it be nice to avoid that awkward “conversation,” explaining to yet another Tinder date why you’re in a bar and drinking seltzer water?


Additional Reading: Is Long-Term Management the Key to Lasting Sobriety?

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