Soberface is a social networking site for people in recovery. It is similar to facebook, but it is specific to people who are involved in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. It has many unique features that no other social networking site could or would have, including selecting whether you are a person battling addiction or a family member or loved one of an addict. As well for people in recovery, you can select your sober date, the substance(s) that you are addicted too, and many more features.

How Soberface Began

When my brother in law Charlie (okay, he isn't exactly my brother in-law, he is my brother's brother in-law, but that is a little confusing, so we will just go with brother in-law for now). When Charlie got out of rehab recently, he was a whole new person. Charlie has struggled with alcoholism for years, and in that time he has been sober many times and gotten off the sauce just as many times. This time felt different though.
I certainly was aware that an addict may need to quit many times before it sticks, and that each and every trip through detox and rehab is another step in getting clean and sober. The thing was, Charlie was a different person getting out of rehab this time. There was something about him that was more confident and he had a feeling of success about him. We were sitting down over coffee and he was talking about the people he met there and it was clear to me and to Charlie himself that this was what made all of the difference this time. Charlie had found a group of people who were serious about getting clean and sober, a group that he could relate to and a group that wanted to shed their old habits together.
Charlie starting talking to me about setting up a website where you could find other people in recovery. After some discussion we figured a social networking site would be perfect. I have a computer background, having run a website before, although that was a lifetime ago, so Charlie and I set out to select the platform, hosting company, developers, etc to launch Soberface.
This was a long slow process and involved a lot of work. The idea behind it was to create a place that was for the people in recovery, their family and their friends. We would do what we could to create a place where they could feel comfortable, connect, help others and work together for a successful future. Charlie is in charge of the company and the website, but my brother and I wanted to do what we could, so we helped to build the website in the early days, but it was and is vitally important that Charlie is in charge of all aspects of this site. After all, not only is it inspiring to see what he can do, it is of key importance that someone who is still there, living the life of the addict in recovery is in charge of creating a place that can truly help others. You just can't fake this stuff, you can't put a person in a business suit in charge who has no idea of the trials and tribulations of battling addiction in charge of this website and expect it to be a genuine helping, healing place.

My Involvement

In seeing the new Charlie, and working with him to get this site up, I was impressed with the drive and determination he showed to get a social networking site off the ground and that certainly would have been reason enough to throw in with him, but that really wasn't the main reason I joined up. I have a much more selfish reason.
Just over 9 years ago, I lost my brother in-law Peter(this would be my real brother in-law, my wife's brother to suicide). Peter was the best brother in-law you could want. He was funny as hell, a great friend and pretty damn good at video games too. He would be at my house for dinner all of the time, we would make roast beef with mashed potatoes and stuffing (we decided that all meals taste better with stuffing). As well, we loved artichokes. My wife's family eats butter and mayonaise every chance they get (and these are the least agregious of the straight fats that they eat), so Pete was shocked to find out that you can eat artichokes by dipping the leaves in butter and mayonaise and scraping off the tiny amount of vegetable on the leaf along with the mouthful of butter and mayo.
Pete's life took a turn for the worse late in high school. He got caught with a bong at school (not his, but he didn't rat out the person's it was) and he was sent to a school for kids with problems. This led him to a group of kids who were all experimenting with harder and harder drugs, and in no time, Pete was a 20 year old heroin addict. I don't know exactly how bad things got for him, but he disappeared from time to time. He says he was on the street on Hastings for a short time, but I didn't see this. He hid his addiction poorly and I remember when we were all out at a family dinner and he came back from a long trip to the bathroom and looked like he was going to fall asleep, pretty much in his own world. The only thing it could be was heroin yet I couldn't imagine that he was really doing heroin. This must have been about 15 to 16 years ago. We confronted him, the family got him help and he got clean. He relapsed. We all went to a family drug counsellor and learned a lot about addiction. It was then that I learned that relapse is part of a path, not a failure, but another step on a road to success. Pete was quite worried that he may take up religion given the religious nature of so many of the rehab programs. I remember the counsellor pointed out that sometimes you need something as big as a religion to fill the gap of addiction. That stuck with me too, but unfortunately the magnitude of that statement didn't hit home until too late.
Finally Pete went to a rehab program in California. He came back having kicked his addiction. He too was different, but this wasn't a good different. He was quite angry. He actually started out frustrated. I couldn't quite get a handle on it. We would talk about what he had been through, about his addiction, and I thought I was helping, but I wasn't. I couldn't understand what he was going through, and it was clear. I was saying things that I thought would be helpful, but it just made matters worse. This was the same with all of his family and friends. He had given up all of the friends he had in his old life because they weren't clean nor sober and they had dragged him down time and again (and to be fair, Pete probably dragged them down as many times). I don't know if any of them are still alive, but I hope some are. The others all succumbed to the dangers of heroin addiction. In any case, I didn't realize but Pete was isolated by his experiences and he was dying inside. He became more and more moody and secluded.
One night we were visiting him and his dad for dinner. He wasn't there. The conversation got on to talking about Pete and we all had serious concerns for different reasons. There were so many clues and they all seemed to click for us right at this time. His room was a slovenly mess, he had become more distant, missing things he used to enjoy, discussions had ominous tones, etc. My sister in-law, my wife and I were driving down the hill at about the time, no more than five miles away, across the harbour, Pete was stepping off of a building, the last step of his life. I still cry about the senselessness of this loss. I still feel the intense loss ripping at me, the selfish feelings of losing one of my best friends, someone who was more than a friend. A family member that you would choose as a friend. I remember the phone call from Pete's dad, my father in-law at 2 am that morning. The RCMP had just told Peter Sr. that he lost his son.
They did a tox screen and he was clean. He did kick the habit and I know he would have been very proud of that. The problem was that in so doing such an excrutiating thing, he was left alone. He was isolated. Where there once was an addiciton, there was a gaping hole now. He literally couldn't talk to anyone about what he had been through. He was speaking a totally different language to the people around him. I think that is what ended his life, but who knows. That is the thing with suicide, you are left with so many unanswered questions. Questions that will never be answered.

The Future of Soberface

So that was why I jumped at this opportunity to be a part of Soberface. Here we can create a place where people can talk in their own language about their own experiences with people who can understand them. No longer are you isolated by your experience, but in contrast you can be connected through it. Again, I am just a family member of people fighting addiction, not an addict and I can't even pretend that I know anything about these experiences. Still, I have spent some time on the site and I can see the impact that this is having. Charlie was explaining to me that the face of recovery has to change with the times and the convenience of the internet gives people round the clock access to support, to sponsors and to build relationships. Soberface gives everyone the opportunity to get connected and set up a profile, chat, look, listen, whatever they need in the ongoing journey either dealing with addiction or having a loved one who is dealing with addiction.
So, where Soberface goes from here is in part up to you. Where do you want it to go? Soberface is run by a person in recovery for people in recovery. For those in recovery, this is your home on the internet. Stop by and check it out. Help others, seek help or just chat. When you get a chance drop Charlie or myself a message about things you want to see here, about what works and what doesn't.
In the meantime, good luck with your journey, I wish you tremendous successs.