Sober Sidekick – Validation Institute Podcast Ep 13

Sober Sidekick, a revolutionary healthcare engagement platform, has significantly enhanced its credibility through validation from the Validation Institute. This endorsement confirms the platform’s effectiveness in fostering community support and producing measurable behavioral outcomes. Their commitment to transforming lives is evident in the measurable success of their participants.


Key Takeaways from Sober Sidekick’s Approach

  1. Validation by Validation Institute: The Validation Institute has certified Sober Sidekick’s approach, enhancing the platform’s credibility and verifying its impact on sobriety. This validation demonstrates the effectiveness of their engagement strategies and behavioral health interventions.
  2. Community-Centric Support: Sober Sidekick leverages a community-driven support system to ensure that no one faces recovery alone. Their platform ensures that users receive real-time support, reducing isolation and potentially preventing relapse.
  3. Empathy Algorithm: The platform’s unique empathy algorithm facilitates immediate and meaningful peer support, which is crucial during recovery. This feature has drastically increased engagement rates and support quality, providing users with consistent access to a supportive community.
  4. Scalable Behavioral Health Solution: Sober Sidekick not only offers a scalable solution to behavioral health challenges but also provides a way to measure effectiveness through continuous user engagement. The ability to measure success at scale allows for ongoing improvement and adaptation of their services to better meet the needs of those in recovery.


Validation Institute:

Today I’m joined by Chris Thompson, the founder and CEO of Sober Sidekick. Good morning, Chris.

Chris Thompson:

Hey, it’s good to be here.

Sober Sidekick: Transforming Sobriety Support Through Community Engagement

 Validation Institute:

Well, it’s a pleasure to see you again. You know I remember when we first met; it was very brief, probably like five minutes, and I was truly impressed by your company’s mission, product, and the incredible results you’re achieving in helping people with their sobriety journey.

For everyone out there, Sober Sidekick is a healthcare engagement platform that is driving endless community engagement that results in life-changing behavioral outcomes.

It immediately caught my attention when I looked up Sober Sidekick was the powerful line on your website: ‘This is your comeback story. We are in this together.’

It’s not just a catchy tagline, but it’s clear that your organization truly lives up to that statement. Your commitment to supporting individuals on the recovery path is evident in everything you do, and I’m excited to dive deeper into what you’ve built and what a special organization this is. So can you tell me, Chris, about the platform and why did you create it?”

Chris Thompson:

Yeah, yeah, be glad to. Well, first off, I’m someone who personally battled addiction and I can’t say I would be alive had I not connected with the right people at the right time.

Looking back on my own personal journey, I recognize that luck played a big role in who I connected with and when. So we decided to build an algorithm where connecting with the right people at the right time is no longer up to chance because, simply put, relapses, mental health crises, and suicides generally don’t happen during therapy sessions.

They happen in the 167 hours in between when people feel isolated. So how can we create a world where, in the darkest moments—late at night or on your lunch break—community support and recovery engagement is always accessible. That’s what we’re here to build, a world where people can help people at scale.

Challenging the Fee-for-Service Model in Behavioral Health Care

Validation Institute:

That’s amazing. And what do you and your team believe is wrong with the industry?

Chris Thompson:

Yeah, so in regards to substance abuse and generally behavioral health, almost everything is fee for service, meaning there’s very little incentives for providers regarding outcomes.

Within the substance abuse space, this has translated to a point where the government has had to get involved and write human trafficking laws specifically for rehabs and substance abuse providers in the space.

Not saying they’re all bad, but what I’m saying here is there’s no real clear incentive to see members recover. And part of the reason for that is there’s no real way to track these members, track their success when there’s no engagement down the line.

This is a population that is historically isolated, this is a population that generally has very high failure rates. Not a lot of people know that only cancer is a more expensive problem on our health system and it’s because we spend $30,000 to $60,000 on 30 days of treatment and then we send the person back into the world where they’re isolated, where their primary coping mechanism is no longer an option, and they struggle.

It tends to be only a matter of time before they go back to the same coping mechanisms because we haven’t invested in ways for them to engage with their recovery in the real world after they’ve left this very expensive care.

So what we’ve created is a revolving door. We’re here to change that by creating a world where recovery is accessible in real-time, in minutes if not seconds.

One of the things I’m most proud of with this platform is there is literally a 100% chance for any of our members who post within our platform that one of their peers will engage with them in the form of written support—not a like, not an emoji, not a thumbs up—they’ll take the time to write support to you because they understand what you’re going through.

And then we’ve gamified empathy; we’ve gamified people helping people to the point where on average 6.2 of your peers are going to reach out in minutes if not seconds.

So that means a single mom who doesn’t have a therapist, works two jobs, can post throughout the day on her lunch break, and every single time she’s going to be greeted with people who have been where she’s at and support her.

And it’s 100% accessible to everyone. So with that, I’m going to stop my rant because I don’t even remember what the question was.

Validation Institute:

Yeah, you’re doing a great job. I’ll tell you that revolving door piece that you’re talking about, I think everybody has heard a story of somebody that’s relapsed after they’ve left, and to your point, it’s because there is no support system.

So I think it’s great when you say things, and they actually happen like six people reaching out as soon as you post, so that’s just great.

Chris Thompson:

The average person will go to treatment 6.5 times; that’s the world we live in, so it’s simply not acceptable to have this low of a bar for success, and we need to change that.

Enhancing Community Involvement in Mental Health Support

Validation Institute:

Yeah, I agree. When we talk about mental health, what role do you feel that peers play in mental health?

Chris Thompson:

Well, not to discount the great work that mental health professionals do, and in my opinion, there’s not enough mental health professionals, but that’s also not just my opinion.

We simply don’t have enough mental health professionals. The math doesn’t add up in regards to solving this problem through mental health professionals.

This problem is too big, too chronic, too intense, and we just don’t have enough mental health professionals. So we can either try to solve the problem through professional mental health counselors, therapists, or whatever, but when we try to solve the problem that way, all we do is widen the gap between those who have access to care and those who don’t.

So the question that needs to be asked if we’re ever going to solve this mental health crisis is, how do you enable regular people to have a positive impact on the mental health of those in their community? And then how do you track that and then how do you scale that? That’s the question that we’re here to answer.

Validating Outcomes to Enhance Behavioral Health Engagement

Validation Institute:

That’s great. And so, you know, by the way, congratulations on the validation for outcomes, fantastic numbers. Can you talk a little bit about that and how it’s going to help you stand out in the marketplace?

Chris Thompson:

Yeah, absolutely. So for one, outside of AA and some similar programs like AA, there’s very little engagement, very few programs that have successfully engaged this population.

And what we need to see happen in order to see widespread behavioral change, in order to see reduced cost of care, and in order to see more real-life comeback stories, we need to create a world where behavioral health is measurable.

Currently, there’s very few reliable data sources in regards to measuring the success of behavioral health. So what we’re most excited about is that we have the ability to measure the effectiveness of our population at scale, and we’re very excited to have the Validation Institute as one of our peer review validators.

What’s also very exciting for me is the scalability. What we’ve seen in the validation is we see a 60% plus reduction in relapse rate by the fifth time someone has engaged with this empathy algorithm, which you know that level of reduction in risk and costs down the line as a result of members engaging with a free platform that’s accessible to them 24/7, I believe that’s a game-changer.

And then with the trust in the community and really the love that our members have for each other, it creates this loyalty where members keep coming back months, years into their recovery journey where the success really is epic real-life comeback stories that we’re able to see, that we’re able to track, that we’re able to measure. So yeah, with that, I’m gonna pause.

Validation Institute:

It’s okay, that’s great. You know, I really appreciate you being here today and thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story. And for everyone out there, I encourage you to learn more about Sober Sidekick and read their amazing outcomes validation by visiting I hope you all have a great day and Chris, thank you again for being here.

Chris Thompson:

Yeah, thank you. Take care.



Sober Sidekick Validated Program Report

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