Random drug testing to monitor one’s alcohol intake may put the fear of God in the newly sober, but it’s not exactly a recipe for serenity in recovery. Meet Soberlink, which promotes scheduled testing with some legit blood alcohol content monitoring, to smooth out the process. It isn’t exactly a Breathalyzer, per se. It’s FDA-cleared, mobile-breath sobriety technology. In layman’s terms, it’s a handheld device with facial recognition software and a blood alcohol content (BAC) detector but zero aspirations for doling out DUIs. When a person breathes into Soberlink, both their BAC and their glamour shot/sober selfie are registered and uploaded into an online system. This system sends BAC results via email or text to a list of pre-approved people. Then, those people know without a doubt that their client or loved one is 100% sober. If they don’t get a test result, they know to ask what’s up.
The tool was initially utilized most often in the criminal justice system, which makes sense. Soberlink founder and CEO Brad Keays’ father owned a monitoring company regulating people on house arrest through breathalyzer testing. Keays saw an opportunity for people in recovery, who no doubt might feel like they’re on house arrest in the early days, and he rolled out the first Soberlink device in 2008. His goal was and still is to empower and improve outcomes for people leaving treatment.
Generally, treatment professionals use Soberlink to keep tabs on a client after rehab. As such, most people undergoing exhale patrol have an addiction specialist getting the test results. These certified providers master the system, activate their client and set their testing (breathing) schedule.
Soberlink’s Share Program is its fastest growing offering because it opens up the door for the individual in recovery to purchase the product and work directly with the company. You know how the saying goes: money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a high-tech device that’ll keep an alcoholic in line.
“Most treatment programs don’t offer continued care,” says Andy Rothman, Vice President of Sales at Soberlink. “We needed to make a pathway to allow the newly sober to create a recovery network. We deal directly with the person in recovery. We talk to them about how the system works. We encourage them to include people who are going to support their recovery: a therapist or recovery coach. It’s a way to share with loved ones that takes away subjectivity and thoughts of ‘Are they drinking or are they not?’”
One successful Soberlink-er reported, “I used this for a show of faith for my employer and family. I have been sober over two years and still use Soberlink once a day, every night. It has been a helpful tool in keeping me sober, and I just signed up with my monitor to use Soberlink for another year.”
Soberlink has a boatload of success stories, a victory they mostly attribute to being an alternative to random testing, which often creates more angst than accountability. It’s structured incentive rather than sudden invasion. Most clients test first thing in the morning, once in the afternoon, and again during that early evening “witching hour,” formerly known as, “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” one of the most common trigger times. Testing hour is the new happy hour!
Wondering what happens if someone wanted to drink between test times? Rothman’s got an answer. “If someone wants to have it, they absolutely can,” he says. “We’re talking about people who don’t know how to stop. It’s not sustainable. Rather than setting them up for failure, we’re setting them up for a program that’s easy to comply with.” Also, when problem drinkers start consuming alcohol, they usually end up behaving problematically. If they were able to control their intake in order to beat the game of daily, scheduled BAC testing, they probably wouldn’t need to be gaming Soberlink in the first place.
The effectiveness of this tool is evident through its many happy (and did we mention, sober?) customers. “Soberlink has been an indispensable tool for maintaining my sobriety,” one client raved. “It gives me accountability to the people who matter the most to me and has been invaluable for rebuilding the trust that my drinking destroyed.”
From the treatment professional to the concerned loved one to the person who’s new to alcohol-free life, taking advantage of tech-savvy innovations like Soberlink seems like a no-brainer and a lifesaver. Getting excited to use a Breathalyzer? Now that’s true recovery.