There are many things that have a hand in a person becoming addicted as a result of substance abuse: Genetics, environmental factors, mental health, and socioeconomic standing all play a role in addiction. Once a person is in the grips of addiction, it can be extremely difficult to stop. Because substance abuse can change the pleasure pathways in the brain, it becomes a fight between neurotransmitters that want to abuse drugs and the willpower of the addict who is trying to stop. Addiction is a literal battle within a person’s brain.
Fortunately, recovery is possible, though it can only be achieved through extremely hard work. Rehabilitation, recovery meetings, and relapses tend to be a part of the process. However, as technology begins to improve nearly every aspect of life, substance abuse recovery is being affected as well.
Technology is helping to improve substance abuse recovery by helping those battling addiction find the support of an online community, offering app-based recovery help, and online services for therapy and rehabilitation. In the future, tech-based addiction treatment in healthcare can make big changes in how addiction affects the brain.
Finding Community in Social Networking
One of the most difficult aspects of substance abuse recovery is removing toxic people who took part in a person’s substance abuse from one’s life and replacing those people with healthy alternatives. Community and support is such a large part of recovery, and being alone tends to push them back into the arms of their toxic community.
Programs like AA (alcoholics anonymous) or NA (narcotics anonymous) encourage a group of like-minded people to be each other’s support system. They offer lessons, advice, and a sponsor to help find the support they need. Today, that sense of community can be found within a person’s smartphone.
Social networking has its positives and negatives, but in terms of technology and substance abuse recovery, it opens many doors for people in recovery looking for community. Those in recovery don’t have to find and attend an AA or NA meeting; they can find a recovery page on Facebook, find an addiction recovery subreddit, or use an app created to bring those in recovery together. Users can reach out, ask for help, be heard, and feel understood through social networking technology.
There seems to be an app for everything, and addiction recovery is no exception. Through the tools offered by these smartphone applications, those battling an addiction can have a leg-up in their recovery. Not only are there apps designed to offer a community to those in recovery, there are also apps to help an addict track their progress, keep a journal of their triggers, and even stop a person from relapsing before it happens. Through data collection, some addiction-related apps can track screen engagement, location, trigger words, and sleep history to spot a possible lapse in recovery.
This type of technology helps each person to be accountable and aware of their progress. In AA, those in recovery receive chips to notate their recovery in terms of months, years, or even 24 hours of sobriety. Apps help duplicate that sense of accomplishment by offering a timeline of recovery and celebrations for milestones. They also offer words of encouragement, the ability to chat with others, and access to the AA handbook. Having all of this information at a person’s fingertips can do great things for long-term recovery.
Online Therapy and Rehab
Though not all people living with a mental health diagnosis will have a substance abuse problem, and not all people battling an addiction will have a mental health diagnosis, the two can often go hand in hand. In fact, substance abuse is a brain disease and is often treated in a similar fashion. Talk therapy with a licensed therapist is a great tool for those who are in recovery to talk about triggers, trauma, and why a person may use. Online therapy is a way to make this tool even more accessible. Those in recovery can have sessions with their therapist from the comfort of their home through a chat program or video calling.
Traditional drug rehab involves leaving to stay at a drug rehab facility for a certain amount of time. Those in recovery would undergo intensive inpatient rehab services including detox, group therapy, and counseling. Though this is still a great option, there is also the option of taking part in an outpatient rehab program online. Though the process is different, it’s another option available through technology for those looking to seek recovery who may not be able to afford an inpatient facility.
The Future of Tech-Based Addiction Treatment
Drug abuse is a major problem across the globe and in the United States. The opioid epidemic is killing 52 people every day in America, making it a national public health crisis. The advancements in addiction treatment can’t come soon enough in order to aid in the epidemic. Though technology is making huge advancements in terms of social networking, smartphone applications, and online therapy groups that are helping those seeking recovery, the future of tech-based addiction help may include medical treatment options.
Since addiction is a disease that affects the brain, some experimental treatments for substance abuse include treatment of neurological pathways. Some treatments involve association and mapping a patient’s brainwaves to access the reward center that controls addiction. Other options are cognitive behavioral therapies to help change the patterns in the brain that are related to drug use. Right now, these tech advances in addiction therapy are still being tested, but the future of addiction treatment options will improve as technology becomes more advanced.
The tech advances in healthcare are changing people’s lives in a big way. Though substance abuse treatment can be a controversial topic in terms of healthcare, it’s an important aspect of health for many Americans. Addiction is a complicated disease unlike any other, and treating it is just as difficult. Fortunately, technology is helping to improve substance abuse recovery. Social networking, smartphone apps, and online therapy are a few ways that technology is currently making a big impact in the accessibility of help for those battling addiction. Hopefully, tech-based addiction treatment will take another big step towards long-term success in substance abuse recovery for the future.
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