Addiction and recovery models are constantly evolving, and the newest iterations of treatment and support are increasingly technology-driven. How has this changed the landscape of addiction and recovery services?
COVID and Virtual Therapy
While technology has become increasingly integrated into almost every aspect of our lives, its role in addiction treatment has been primarily limited to providing information and education.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a rapid expansion of technology in all areas of health care, including addiction treatment and recovery support, with providers pivoting to providing care via telehealth.
The shift to remote health care has been driven by maintaining social distance and protecting patients and staff from exposure to the virus. As a result, new research is beginning to emerge on the potential benefits and limitations of telehealth delivery of addiction support.
Planet of the Apps
As technology advances, so too does the potential for its use in addiction treatment. One way tech has entered the arena is through internet-based applications. Over the past five years, there has been a proliferation of applications designed to provide immediate, targeted help to individuals.
While these applications can be beneficial for tracking, habit building, and craving management, they are not an adequate replacement for treatment with trained professionals.
Apps Make Help More Accessible
Technology-based therapies offer several advantages, including increased access to support. In addition, the rise of digital treatments has made it easier than ever for people to access evidence-based treatments from the comfort of their own homes.
For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for various mental health problems, including addiction. The digital app iCBT allows patients to work through their issues in real-time with a CBT therapist without scheduling appointments or traveling to meetings.
This type of therapy can be especially beneficial for rural or underserved areas, which may not have easy access to traditional addiction treatment services.
Technology can be a powerful tool to complement addiction treatment by providing access to care when and where it is needed. The immediacy of access is especially critical in addiction support, as people dealing with substance use disorders often have difficulty making and attending appointments.
Many apps use location services and have a directory of treatment centers and peer support groups. Using technology to connect people with care can help them get the treatment they need when they are ready for it. This can be a lifesaving intervention for people.
SoberWorx is an example of an app that people battling substance use disorders and their loved ones can use to find treatment providers in their area. You can search for providers in the U.S. and the U.K. The app includes location services for:
- Substance abuse counselors
- Licensed rehab facilities
- Sober living homes
One study found that people who used SoberWorx were more likely to enter treatment and less likely to relapse than those who didn’t use the app. Researchers believe that SoberWorx makes finding treatment providers, comparing prices, and reading reviews easy.
Tracking and Triggers
Mobile apps can help patients track their progress and identify triggers in their everyday lives.
An example of this is SoberTool. This app gives you the tools you need when a craving hits. First, users open the app and choose the question or issue they’re facing right now, such as what makes them want to use it. Then, you can answer a few prompts to tell the app how you feel or use its search function.
One of the unique tools featured in the app is a way to work through triggers and avoid relapse. If you feel like you may relapse, you can answer questions and find uplifting messages inspiring to stay sober.
Other features include a sobriety tracker and a community forum to share your recovery journey with your peers.
Social and Emotional Connection
Recovery from addiction is a challenge that requires significant effort and dedication. Unfortunately, social isolation can make the process harder, as many individuals find that their social groups are rooted in using together.
Sobergrid is a social network that provides support for those in recovery. Users can connect with other sober individuals in their community or make new friends online. The app also includes a sobriety tracker and an SOS feature to alert others when they need immediate support. Sober Grid is one example of how technology can provide social and emotional support for those in recovery from addiction.
Limitations of Digital Solutions
Digital therapy can be helpful in a variety of situations, but technology and addiction support have limitations. For example, suppose you have a severe addiction or a more complex mental health condition. Then, online therapy may not be recommended unless other in-person therapies or treatments are also involved in your plan.
Additionally, as most of the therapy is through writing, the nonverbal communication cues such as gestures, body language, and voice are missed. As a result, individuals may find it difficult to express their feelings, which is automatic in face-to-face relationships.
Ultimately, digital therapies can be valuable tools for addiction support, but they should not be the only form of treatment used.
If anything is apparent in the world of substance use treatment, it’s that not nearly enough people are receiving the treatment they need. In the meantime, there are apps. Although apps can’t — and don’t — replace licensed treatment, they put support and information in the pockets of people struggling to recover from addiction. If you need extra support for your substance use disorder and have a smartphone, give one of these apps or web-based tools a try. Remember that these tools are best used to complement traditional therapy with trained professionals. Addiction is rooted in trauma, which requires in-person counseling and support to treat. Restoration Recovery Center offers a range of treatment options tailored to your individual needs, including residential, intensive outpatient, and aftercare groups. If you are looking for trauma-focused, person-centered treatment, we can help. Call Restoration Recovery Center today for more information at (888) 290-0925.