Should Technology Use Be Restricted During Rehab?

The role of technology in recovery is a hotly debated topic. Some rehab facilities allow limited use of technology. Others don’t allow any access to the Internet or social media. And some others have no restrictions at all. Part of the reason why the restrictions on technology vary so widely among detox and treatment facilities is that technology can both help and hurt the recovery.

The Down Side of Technology
While Internet addiction may not yet have an official diagnosis, many health professionals feel that people can become addicted to the rush they get from social media. Getting “likes” and praise from strangers online causes the production of dopamine in the brain, and that dopamine produces a high like the high that people can get from alcohol or drugs. So some medical health professionals feel that not restricting access to smartphones or the Internet during recovery hampers a person’s recovery.

Social media can also cause a lot of stress for people in recovery because often family drama and relationship drama is played out on social media sites like Facebook. Those already complicated relationships can be too overwhelming for someone in recovery to deal with.

There are also privacy concerns regarding the use of smartphones. Smartphones with cameras may allow people to take photos at treatment facilities that compromise the privacy of the other residents. This is especially a concern at state-run detox and treatment facilities where residents need to share rooms. It’s much less of a concern at private detox and treatment centers where residents have their own rooms and bathrooms.

The Up Side of Technology
There are also some compelling reasons why technology should be allowed in treatment and detox facilities. One of the biggest is that losing access to their smartphones can cause fear and anxiety in people who are trying to become sober. Doctors and psychologists have found that some people, especially younger people, can develop crippling anxiety and fear when separated from their cell phones. The last thing that a person in recovery needs is more anxiety. So giving them access to their cell phones, even if the access is limited, can be a positive thing.

Another reason why some treatment facilities allow Internet and cell phone use is that some people have a legitimate need to conduct business, answer email, and do other tasks while they are in recovery. Not everyone can simply drop out of life for the entire period of detox and recovery. Business owners and other professionals still need to be able to get their work done. Many private detox and recovery centers whose clients tend to be professionals allow unlimited use of the Internet so that people can continue to fulfill their work obligations.

And the most compelling reason of all to allow access to phones and computers is that giving people access to social media allows them to connect with friends and family at a time when they really need a strong support network. Texts, Facebook messages and other signs of support can be very affirming for a person going through detox and recovery.

If you know someone that is struggling with addiction give us a call today to find out more about Diamond House’s social media and Internet use policies and the other benefits of detox in our luxury facility.

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on January 29th, 2018.