We first introduced AfterParty readers to Kenny Pomerance and Ronald Tannebaum from In The Rooms in April of 2013. Since that time, the online recovery community they created has grown exponentially. Then, there were 271,248 members and now, there are about 400,000. They’re sporting 140,000 Facebook fans and facilitating 118 online meetings a week. By their estimates, there are roughly 205 new signups a day and the virtual support is spreading all over the world. A little over 10 percent of their users are outside of the United States. These Rooms are reppin’ 136 countries! That’s why Kenny and Ron are our latest AfterParty Heroes.
Why the massive growth spurt? I had the pleasure of speaking with Pomerance and Tannebaum who both claim the buzz around In the Rooms has purely been an organic, grassroots, word of mouth type of operation. You know, just friends telling friends equals wild fire kind of thing. People in recovery are meeting on the site before then connecting in real life, too. In fact, groups are getting together in order to log on and watch the video meetings together. Virtual reality is becoming actual reality, y’all. The option to attend a meeting online is crucial for someone who might be sick, unable to drive, unable to get a babysitter or immobile for any number of reasons. For example, the guys point out, if there is someone hooked up to oxygen in a hospital room, In The Rooms is truly an additional life line for them.
In the Rooms has also joined the app world. There are two free apps associated with the site, available for both Android and iPhone. There is the actual site in mobile form which provides access to all the same online video meetings as well as a worldwide GEO locatable meeting finder for NA, AA, OA and GA. Wherever you are, you can find a meeting with this app.
Afternoon Affirmations is a bonus app they developed with Australian writer and minister Ian Lawton. In The Rooms members already receive affirmations via email each morning but the guys thought, what can we do to keep that morning Zen status accessible throughout the day? When Lawton reached out to them and said he was a fan of their work and had thousands of affirmations written already, In The Rooms partnered with his site Soul Seeds, and the rest of us can just sit back and enjoy the inspiration.
The guys guess that about half of their members are accessing all the services via the app. Will the mobile aspect of the site eventually surpass the desktop version? More and more people are turning to phones and tablets for anything and everything so that’s certainly a possibility. Either way, there’s definitely no excuse for not hitting a meeting anymore.
We talk about holistic treatment a lot in our rehab reviews. Tannebaum and Pomerance are bringing that concept into virtual recovery. In The Rooms was founded with 12-step in mind and will always have those meetings, but it also has so much more in the form of support groups. They’ve got leading addiction and recovery experts leading meetings on topics ranging from sex and addiction, trauma in recovery, meditation and yoga in recovery (this one involves doing actual yoga), to name a few. And it’s gradually incorporating more 12-step alternatives like Smart Recovery and Women in Sobriety too. Of course, meetings that are supposed to be designated 12-step are clearly labeled as such in hopes of guidelines and traditions always being respected.
When I asked about this increasingly holistic approach to the site (and mentioned how awesome it is that it’s completely free for public consumption), Tannebaum cited the healthy foundations for love and relationships he’s established through over three decades of sobriety and how he wants to build on that. He said, “We need to meditate more, do some yoga and exercise and maintain these healthy relationships…that’s what we’re trying to bring to people—to bring that extra in.”
When I asked the guys what motivates them to have a full-time dedication to In the Rooms, Pomerance said, “It was given so freely to us. We’re in a good position; we’re able to give back.” And for that, we are all very, very grateful.
Photo of Tannebaum and Pomerance with AfterParty’s Anna David; courtesy of Ron Tannebaum. Used with permission. To see all our AfterParty Heroes, click here.