Mental health: I tested applications for sobriety

“Take stock of your moods and your progress”, “congratulations, you have been sober for X times now! It’s 8 p.m., and I’m simultaneously receiving two notifications from programs I’ve downloaded to monitor my mental health and track my alcohol consumption. It’s now been a month and a half that “I am sober”, an application dedicated to counting sobriety, and “Daily Bean”, an application where you document your daily life to analyze the evolution of your mood, accompany my days .

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The feedback from several friends who have decided to reduce their consumption or stop dead convinced me to take the plunge. As a result, according to them, fewer digestive worries and more energy! After three months of sobriety, it is time to look into the real effectiveness of these applications, with the clarifications of an addictologist.

I tested “I am sober” to quit alcohol

In mid-March, I therefore challenged myself to stop drinking, a bit like a Dry January – which I had tested two years earlier, with more or less success. For this, I decided to have the “I am sober” application as my sponsor, which offers to regulate several types of addictions, including porn, sex, drugs or online shopping or betting. jock. With my two or three glasses of alcohol a week, I first told myself that I didn’t really have an addiction. Above all, I had to stop my consumption to avoid interactions with a treatment that had been prescribed to me.

But the issue of addiction is not that simple. Stéphanie Ladel, social consultant and addictologist, ensures that there are no addicts on the one hand and those who are not on the other. “It’s gradual,” she explains. You can be more or less addicted, in a more or less serious way. Hence the interest in being wary and downgrading while there is still time. »

Every day a little too drunk, while throwing a Doliprane in a large glass of water, my mouth dry and my eyes glassy, ​​I told myself that I would never drink alcohol again. A promise quickly forgotten the next evening. Although I insisted that my alcohol consumption was moderate and that I could stop whenever I wanted, not drinking was a bit of a challenge.

“I am sober” offers features that allow you to share your feelings, the positive and negative effects of being sober, and also offers corny quotes meant to motivate you. Personally, I was content to use the countdown of my sobriety and the tool allowing me to visualize how many euros I had saved since the beginning of my challenge, which seemed to me quite effective. “These are common features that encourage by the accumulation of small successes,” explains Stéphanie Ladel. But beware, “this suggests that addiction is a matter of quantity and distance, thanks to the number of days elapsed. This can accentuate the feeling of personal inefficiency,” she warns. Moreover, “not every application is useful and does not serve everyone, you have to test several before knowing which one suits you and if this method is sufficient”, recalls the addictologist who herself has attempted to launch its own platform, but encountered difficulties in financing such initiatives in France.

But unlike dry January, and even though I was alone behind my screen, I was less tempted to give in. Maybe because the countdown carrot and the encouraging notifications were enough to motivate me, or maybe because I just gained more determination over time… Still, three months after starting the challenge , I still haven’t had a single drop of alcohol.

I tested “Daily Bean” to better manage my daily life

“Daily Bean” is quite easy to learn. The application interface allows you to enter every day at the end of the day all the activities, interactions, projects, hobbies and meals of the day, while noting our mood of the moment. The goal ? Have an eye on his routine and an overview of the evolution of his feelings. The exercise may seem tedious and ridiculous, but the more the days pass, the more we take pleasure in noting the tasks accomplished. There is something satisfying about contemplating your day laid out on a digital interface and translated into statistics, like when you cross off tasks from your “to-do list”.

The application allowed me to keep an eye on the progress of my day and on my moods, which vary, like everyone else, according to my menstrual cycle, my activities, my interactions or the events that punctuate my daily life. While it’s human to not always have a cheerful, positive mood, I tended to feel guilty when it wasn’t, and wonder why I wasn’t jumping for joy. Being able to make the connection between the emotions I feel during the day and what happens there allowed me to take a step back, and realize that certain habits favored this or that feeling. Concretely, when I analyze the statistics page of the application, I realize that when I had social interactions with friends or colleagues, that I went out to get some fresh air, that I ate my fill or practiced a physical or artistic activity, I tend to feel more optimistic and happy. On the contrary, when I stay cloistered at home working from home, when I face a conflict or when I let the dishes pile up in the sink, my mood is much more gloomy. It may seem obvious, but on a daily basis, especially in times of stress or fatigue, it can be difficult to recognize the routines that do us more or less good.

Small problem, however: if I took pleasure in dissecting my days when I was productive and in a good mood, doing it during my days of laziness and “blues” was much less fun, even guilt-ridden.

For the addictologist, this type of application is useful for people who fall back into addiction, even in apparently positive contexts, such as alcoholics who would be “triggered” by moments of conviviality, for example. “It allows you to see what you can tend to more often to get better and it seems interesting to me for people who have trouble introspecting or who have mood disorders. “. Ultimately, it is a logbook, which can make it possible to see weak signals arriving or to point the finger at triggers. It’s also a pretty useful tool for people taking depression medications to see if their mood changes with the dosages. For others, this day’s weather is not necessarily necessary.

What is an effective application then?

For Stéphanie Ladel, whether it is to regulate an addiction or take care of her mental health, we need an application that is ergonomic, that does not give injunctions, and that takes users on board in a community with addiction expertise, as with the Dry January. She recommends looking for apps that don’t make you think more about what you’re already obsessed with, that are interactive, and that give feedback on your strategies.

The addictologist warns: “Often, applications are chosen as the only help, but it is not always enough. This can still help to achieve autonomy and economy, because calling on a pro is expensive and you have to reveal yourself to an unknown person. According to her, it can happen that this type of application screens the meeting with a pro likely to change the game in difficult situations. “Also, the app can give a person the impression that if they don’t achieve their goal, it’s their fault. Indeed, the fact that these interfaces do not show the reality through which other users pass can make people feel guilty. “To counter this feeling of failure, we have to talk about the person, and not just about numbers and quantity,” she concludes.

This is perhaps where the limits of these methods lie: overcoming a psychological disorder or an addiction requires that you be known and understood in a personalized way. The applications are a great help for a standard accompaniment, but, in addition to lacking accessibility (most being English-speaking and paying), they only very rarely open the dialogue.