Samuel Bennett, who became an alcoholic in his teens, is developing a phone app that will support other addicts who are in recovery. ‘Nobody can do it on their own,’ he says
“I began drinking when I was 12. Alcohol became my best friend. It turned all the sadness and hurt I had into massive amounts of anger. It made me feel confident and powerful.”
Samuel Bennett went on to spend his 18th birthday in rehab, and then through the doors of eight further treatment centres over the years, as his addiction led him to drug use, homelessness and the brink of suicide.
Now 31, he has been in recovery for two years and is developing a phone app called Meet4ACoffee to try to help others do the same.
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The free app – which Bennett hopes to launch in the summer – will allow people to connect with others in recovery anywhere in the world, as well as access services such as drug treatment centres, mental health teams and support groups. The ‘my circle’ feature will allow those with the app to log clean days and share messages of encouragement.
“Nobody can do recovery on their own,” says Bennett, who lives in Sheffield. “You can’t just wake up one morning out of a life of drinking, drugs, prison and say ‘I’m not going to bother with this any more’. Recovery supports recovery. It really does. This is how it has worked for hundreds of years. All I’m doing is putting that support network into a digital format.”
Bennett has been crowdfunding to raise funds to make Meet4ACoffee a reality. With no technical background – and little formal education due to his alcoholism – it has proved a steep learning curve. “I was homeless when I started this,” he says. “I sketched it up on a piece of cardboard on the side of the road. I was ready to give up. But the app became my recovery. It’s my passion, and my giving back too.”
Recovery supports recovery. This is how it has worked for hundreds of years
Bennett believes he wouldn’t be alive were it not for periods of abstinence over the years. Up until two years ago, he always resorted to drinking again. “I’ve always been an all-or-nothing guy. When I was sober at one point, I got into powerlifting. I went from almost qualifying for the British powerlifting team to sitting in a crack house drinking vodka and smoking drugs I’d never even heard of. Addiction just picks you up and throws you somewhere.”
“But then I got to the point where I’d just had enough. I was either going to drink myself to death or I was going to try to change the world in some way. This was my choice.”
All images: Nigel Barker