The idea for Recovree started in December 2016. It was family week at Luke’s treatment facility. Family week is an opportunity for family members to learn, share, cope and process what has and is happening with their loved one who suffers from substance use disorder. It was my first experience with family week. I remember feeling anxious. I had to write a letter to Luke sharing how his disease affects our relationship and how it made me feel.
Luke is my younger brother. We are very different but I think we appreciated our differences even as kids. He’s the smart, laidback and even-tempered sibling and I’m the busy, emotional and high energy type. Luke’s disease took hold of him in high school and progressed throughout his 20s. It was alcohol that nearly killed him but he was using numerous substances at the peak of his illness.
I learned a lot about substance use disorder at family day and how everyone’s experience with this disease is complex, frustrating, sad, tiresome, discouraging and overwhelming. No one wanted this disease, no one wants to be an addict. Luke and I read our letters to each other – I shared my frustrations, sadness and grievances and he shared his regret, apology and hope for the future. At that moment, I saw my brother again for the first time in many years. The mask of addiction was removed and I could see a kind and good person. The positive experience was quickly shadowed by the thought of how will Luke manage his disease outside of the treatment facility.
During visiting hours the following Sundays, Luke and I began discussing his aftercare and what was going to happen next. I brought surveys to his facility and asked Luke to distribute them to his peers. I wanted to know what he and his peers were feeling and what stressors they were anticipating upon their release from treatment.
Luke moved to St. Paul following his 45-day inpatient treatment to live in a sober house and begin an outpatient program. We met every week during his outpatient treatment to discuss new aftercare tools. Working with his outpatient peers, we focused on the patient experience.
Our MVP (minimum viable product) was tested in March 2017 with people at varying stages of recovery. We saw an engagement rate of 80 percent. The test users shared that Recovree made them 100 percent more aware of their daily emotions and experiences, and 85 percent said that Recovree contributed to their sobriety.
Over the next several months, we met with almost 100 people from the recovery community – health care providers, insurance companies, nonprofits, foundations and individuals.
In August, we began focusing on peer recovery specialists, the fastest growing service for people in recovery. Peer recovery specialists have firsthand experience with substance use disorder and can offer support and understanding for people with the disease. They receive training on how to work with patients and can provide assistance to people who are at varying stages of recovery. We quickly recognized that peer recovery specialists could provide a level of accountability for the patients that we are trying to serve and are in need of new tools to support their relationships with their patients.
We’re currently testing Recovree with local treatment facilities to prove that our product improves engagement and outcomes for peer recovery specialists and their clients.
It’s been a miraculous year to say the least. My brother has been sober for 13 months and we’ve found a community that shares our hopes and vision for people in recovery. We have discovered new purpose for our lives and are driven to create better outcomes for people who pursue treatment for substance use disorder.
A very sincere thank you to the numerous people who have spent time and energy working with us on Recovree. It’s been an exciting journey and we’ve met wonderful champions throughout the community. We appreciate you and are forever grateful for accepting us and supporting our dream.
We look forward to sharing more with you in the new year. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones.