SO CAN PRISON –
Jan. 5, 2022 – Tempest’s design is straightforward and draws primarily from two practices with established psychological benefits: cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. The former seeks to help members rethink their relationship to alcohol, while mindfulness techniques have been used to reduce cravings for drugs and make practitioners less reactive to triggers. Within its overarching structure, Tempest offers members a number of ways to personalize their participation. Lessons are released on a weekly basis and take roughly two hours to complete on average. There are weekly, hour-long support-group calls, which function not unlike AA meetings (except for the expectation that one will introduce oneself as an alcoholic), as well as weekly, hour-long Q&A calls with coaches or clinicians, during which members may ask more specific questions regarding their recovery experience. Ruby Mehta, Tempest’s clinical director, estimates the average member’s time commitment is between three and five hours per week.
Until recently, Tempest offered a four-week intensive course for $399, which 1,000 people completed in 2021. The company decided to scrap the intensive to simplify its offerings and because it seemed to promote a sort of sobriety hierarchy, says Ruth Sun, who became Tempest’s CEO after Whitaker stepped down last year (she remains on the board of directors). “People were like, ‘Are you saying I’m not serious about my sobriety if I don’t take the intensive? Are you telling me that because I don’t wanna pay this big bill, I’m not as important?’” The intensive also, perhaps, gave members the feeling that they had “finished” working on their sobriety, which wasn’t intentional. Tempest conceives of its members as people with a chronic condition, which means membership is indefinite. Or as Queen Muse, the company’s communications director, puts it, “Core membership isn’t designed to be completed.”