How Technology Can Support — and Hinder — Recovery

You want the best outcomes in recovery. That means more than just staying clean and sober. You also want to enjoy life to the fullest, just without the crutch of drugs or alcohol or other compulsive addictions that jammed you up in the first place. Thinking about the enormity of this responsibility — living a life in recovery — can be a little overwhelming. One solution that appeals to many is technology. Before diving in, however, it’s important to learn how technology can support (and also hinder) recovery.
girl with cellphone

Technology Can Be Your Friend

The many benefits of technology include the fact that it’s readily available, easily accessible, and really doesn’t cost that much. With the aid of a smartphone or computer or tablet, you can connect to the Internet and find many of the answers you seek at lightning speed — dependent only on your Internet or Wi-Fi connection.

Technology can help with recovery in a number of ways:

  • Find a meeting. Whether you’re running late and need to find a support group meeting in your area or you’re out of town and aren’t familiar with meeting locations, use a recovery app on your smartphone to quickly and easily find a meeting.
  • Keep your notes and journals in one place. If you don’t want or have room for endless notebooks, scraps of paper, or lists you put together to hang on your bulletin board or refrigerator, technology can help simplify recovery-oriented tasks. Be sure to keep your files password protected and encrypt them if you decide to email yourself something from work to home, for example. Keep what you say private and for your eyes only.
  • See how you’re feeling. Do a quick emotional check-in, again, using your smartphone. Monitor your moods, get a reminder of uplifting activities and track your progress over time. This is so much easier with technology that instantly helps you stay on track with your recovery.
  • Find answers to questions. Maybe you’re experiencing something different and are worried about it, or your life just got more complicated and you need help organizing priorities. Using technology to input your question can quickly net a wealth of answers. Be judicious in using the Internet this way, however, because all sources aren’t equal. Stick to trusted, reliable expert sources and you should be fine.
  • Be inspired. Daily inspirational quotes and articles that are motivating and powerful are but a click away. Isn’t life much more meaningful if you have access to that little bright spot that is there for you to access when and wherever you need it?
  • Connect with others online. Social media, when used responsibly, can be very helpful in recovery. One study found that social media can help or worsen mental health, finding that the key is to use social networking tools “cautiously and strategically.”

But Technology Can Also Stand in the Way

All is not completely rosy when it comes to technology and recovery. For some people, especially those with an addiction to the Internet, compulsive gaming, porn, compulsive shopping or spending, technology can prove to be an enabler for a deeper slide into addiction.

If placing that bet or clicking “buy” is just a mouse-click away, it’s all too easy to succumb to temptation and allow all that progress you’ve made so far to disappear like a blank screen that appears when your computer has a fatal error.

Being a slave to social media also has its consequences, especially if you constantly update your pages, post selfies like there’s no tomorrow, and spend more time on Facebook and Twitter and the like than with real people. One study found that heavy Facebook use could make users depressed or jealous — definitely not the result you’re after.

Others who are so afraid of missing out that they never turn off their smartphone, and have to instantly respond to any texts or messages or emails are diving deeper into obsession with technology and being connected — and not in a good way. Excessive use of smartphones can make life even less fun, according to research conducted by Kent State University.

At work, or when away from work, checking emails obsessively isn’t conducive to good health — especially when you’re in recovery. It can be a major cause of stress, as well as contribute to other health problems. Set regular times to check and deal with work emails, and forego the temptation to check at other times.

Use Technology Wisely

With so much at your disposal via technology, it stands to reason – and that means using common sense — that technology is a two-way street. It can help recovery tremendously, but it can also prove to be a barrier to ongoing efforts. Strive for a good balance, making use of technology when and if another way isn’t available, and whenever possible, interacting with others face-to-face. Nothing beats the real thing, no matter how connected the world has become.

By Suzanne Kane

Posted on February 15th, 2016

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