Technology has helped us overcome many obstacles that once seemed insurmountable. As tech continues to advance, people are finding new ways to leverage it against old problems. One of the most impactful of these areas is facilitating drug and alcohol recovery.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a devastating, widespread problem. In 2019, 19.3 million American adults had a substance abuse disorder. That’s 7.7% of the entire national population. These addictions are also remarkably destructive, even fatal, so it’s impossible to overstate the importance of effective treatment.
Thankfully, modern technology helps people struggling with addiction throughout the recovery process. Here’s how.
1. Increasing Access to Help
The first steps in recovery are often the hardest part. There’s a lot of stigma around addiction, so it’s not always clear where someone can get help if they need it. Now there are plenty of digital services to help connect people with the recovery resources they need.
AA Big Book, for example, is an app that gives users hundreds of pages of Alcoholics Anonymous resources. They can use it to locate nearby meetings, see step-by-step recovery guides, read testimonials and more. People who feel ashamed or embarrassed of their addiction can use apps like this to find help without having to ask around.
Similarly, there’s an abundance of mental health chatbots that let people talk privately with AI. While these aren’t a substitute for traditional therapies, they can serve as a helpful first step, guiding people to the treatment they need.
2. Reducing Related Fatalities
For example, roughly one-third of all traffic deaths are the result of an accident involving a drunk driver. The increasing availability of self-driving cars may eventually reduce the risk of this type of incident. When inebriated drivers no longer need to control their vehicles, an AI will have the power to safely escort them home.
Of course, this is far from our current situation. But with time, self-driving cars will see greater adoption, and it stands to reason that DUIs will start to decline.
3. Improving Therapy
Some of the most impressive examples of drug and alcohol recovery tech appear in the therapy process. Technology can help people visualize different scenarios or engage them in learning activities they would otherwise find dull. While these seem like minor considerations, studies have found that tech-augmented therapies frequently work better than traditional options.
For example, an app called Reset guides patients through recovery by providing activities to learn skills and behaviors that fight addiction. Trials showed that 40.3% of patients who used the app successfully abstained from substance use, compared to just 17.6% in those who didn’t use the app.
Another study used computer games to help patients understand their condition and how to fight it. The experiment found that 36% of the patients who used computer-based training abstained from cocaine for three weeks or more. Only 17% of the control group was able to do the same.
4. Providing Support Systems
Drug and alcohol recovery is a long, challenging journey. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol, even after effective therapy, is rarely easy, but connecting with people in similar situations can help. These support systems are the core idea behind groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, and now, people can use tech to connect with them.
One of the leading examples of recovery support apps is A-CHESS. The app lets people contact 24/7 support lines, connect with others struggling with addictions and includes warnings when someone gets close to a bar or liquor store. Studies show that app users have higher odds of abstaining thanks to these features.
Another app, Sober Grid, lets people talk to other people in recovery in their area. It also includes a news feed of others’ check-ins and updates, which helps encourage people in the recovery journey.
5. Supporting Healthy Activities
There’s more to recovery than abstaining from drugs or alcohol. Many people also find it helpful to engage more in promoting their mental and physical health. Technology helps in these areas, too, keeping people healthy so they can fight addiction more effectively.
Meditation apps like Headspace, for example, make meditating easy and accessible for more people. With these services guiding them, people can practice calming exercises and form more positive ways of thinking. These practices can help reduce the stress and anxiety that could come with withdrawal and cravings.
There’s also evidence to suggest that exercise can help people in recovery from addictions. Wearables like FitBits help encourage people to stay active, giving them an easy way to track progress. Similarly, virtual fitness classes can guide people in healthy activities without the pressure of being in an actual gym.
Drug and Alcohol Recovery Is Challenging, But Tech Can Help
Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is one of the most challenging but crucial things a person can do. While this journey is never easy, modern technology removes many of the obstacles. As tech keeps advancing, people in recovery will have more and more resources to help them.
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