The benefits of technology for the treatment community
Technology is a big part of our everyday lives. Mobile phones and apps, tablets, laptops and social media have allowed us to be connected in ways most of us would never have dreamed of just two decades ago. Some people believe that all this technology has turned people into obsessive selfie-takers who only interact with people on a superficial level, and spend far too much time zoning out in front of a screen.
While technology has its downsides, it is a powerful and useful tool that can be used to improve lives. For the person who is fresh out of treatment and newly recovering, technology can be a useful source of support.
While a comprehensive aftercare program is the best way for someone to transition to the “real world” after treatment, not everyone is offered this service. Technology can help bridge the gap between continued care and life after treatment.
How Apps Can Help Keep People Connected
For example, the Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-Chess) offers support for those new in recovery. It’s a smartphone app that allows people to continue to receive support after treatment. From alerting you when you are too close to a bar, to relaxation and meditation tools to a “panic” button that puts you in touch with immediate professional support, A-Chess is a powerful tool that helps you not feel so alone in your early recovery. And, it’s effective.
In addition, commonly used social media channels such as Facebook can be a positive tool to help keep people in recovery connected. There are numerous clean and sober Facebook groups that are a safe community where you can give and get support no matter where you are or what time it is. Often times these are alternative places to start for individuals questioning whether or not they have a problem and how to get help.
There are also programs in development, such as text-based intervention services and for those participating in twelve step programs, there are a variety of apps that allow you to read 12 step literature, locate meetings near you and meet others in recovery.
Other Health Related Apps
While there are plenty of apps that are specifically related to recovery, there are many others that aren’t, but that are still useful for a person in recovery.
For example, there are a variety of journaling and gratitude apps that allow users to record their thoughts throughout the day. There are habit-building and breaking apps, and apps that address various mental health issues.
Is There A Downside?
While technology is a tool that has the potential to help people make positive changes in their lives, there is indeed a downside. First, there is the danger that people will not make face-to-face interaction their main focus. Apps and mobile phones are great, but they aren’t a substitute for real human interaction. Social media is a big culprit here, because it lulls users into believing that they are keeping in contact with people and having quality interactions. While social media is a great way to keep in touch, it may actually lead to isolation, since the superficial contact is a poor substitute for meeting face-to-face.
Other issues that come into play are the fact that technology in itself can be a trigger. Mobile phones, apps and social media sites offer immediate gratification, and this can pose a problem for those with impulse control issues. Impulse control is a big problem for the newly recovering addict, and the instant gratification can promote obsessive behavior. This is especially true for someone who has just stopped drinking or using drugs, because there is a tendency to “substitute” one addiction for another. Too much time in front of a screen can disrupt sleep and make you feel groggy and even depressed. Not only that, but relying too much on attention for your latest selfie or inspiring Facebook meme may hurt self-esteem.
Finding A Balance
If you are in recovery and you own a smartphone, you will find that there are many ways to use it to help you keep connected with others in recovery. This is useful when you are away from your home group, or if you find yourself in a stressful situation. Don’t forget that your smartphone isn’t just a place to access your apps and games — it’s a phone, too! Don’t hesitate to pick it up and call your support group for help or just to talk.
Have fun exploring the many apps that are out there for things like meditation, exercise, positive affirmations, gratitude and of course, recovery. Be sure that you aren’t leaning on technology so much that you are avoiding real contact, though. As with anything else in life, balance is the key. Don’t be afraid of technology, but don’t abuse it, either.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.