Connections App aims to curb feelings of isolation for those in recovery

GREENBRIER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – When COVID-19 shut group gatherings down, one major concern was how isolation and lack of meetings would affect those with substance use disorder and those in recovery.

To help with this issue, back in April, the Connections App developed by CHESS Health rolled out to help keep those in recovery connected and engaged during trying times.

Jeffery Blackburn is a peer recovery support specialist for Seneca Health Services and has been using the app for about a month with his clients and says he has gotten great feedback.

“Once we upload them, it will send them a link to their phone,” he said. “Tap the link. They’ll download it. I’ll send them an access key that it generates when I onboard them and yeah, they go from there.”

Previously, the app was only available to patients connected to treatment providers, but the DHHR announced on Wednesday it will now be accessible to individuals in recovery who are no longer affiliated with a provider but still want the resources.

Recovery specialists like Blackburn can set clients up where they can then download and log in on their phone. From there, they’re able to set goals, reminders, make therapy appointments, encourage others and reach out to peer recovery coaches.

“Through the app, you can congratulate people on sobriety. You see other people’s sobriety, and you can work on a total anonymity basis,” Blackburn said. “You don’t have to put your picture up, but you know, most people are pretty proud about what they’re doing and what they’re able to achieve.”

It even can alert an individual when they are near locations that can be triggering and harmful for their recovery.

One of the most important features: the crisis button. Once it is pushed, it sends an immediate alert out to let people know they are in crisis and need immediate response.

During a time that has been especially troubling for those dealing with substance use disorder, having some sense of community is key.

“A support group is just as huge in recovery as anything and that app brings a support group right to people,” Blackburn said. “You know, people start talking and people start developing those bonds in recovery and relating. It opens up people just to people they never would have access to before.”

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.