Anyone who has been in the addiction treatment field for the past couple of decades has seen how technological advances can influence the delivery of treatment. Our experience is that like most things, there is an upside and a downside to all of it. On the one hand, application-filled mobile devices have allowed people in recovery to gain access to 12-step and other mutual help meetings, connect with others in recovery and even manage sobriety day counts. On the other hand, instant access to the internet can unleash a torrent of relapse behaviors among addicts who are trying to remain sober. For many in recovery behaviors like obtaining illicit substances and finding sexual partners are only clicks away on a mobile device or laptop.
A frequent intervention for people re-entering the community used to be to get rid of cell phones and /or delete nefarious contacts from the directory so that obtaining drugs would be harder to do. Not a 100% guarantee against relapse, the action of purging contacts was itself a way to communicate one’s dedication to recovery. Unfortunately, now that we have “The Cloud” getting rid of addiction-related contacts is not so easy. In fact, it is practically impossible. No cell phone? No problem, just get a new phone and sign in with a google account and all of the old contacts magically appear. Of course it is possible to go a level deeper and delete contacts from gmail and other accounts, and this is what must be done if those in early recovery want to rid those influences from their social networks.
Scott Bienenfeld, M.D.