Not long ago, addiction recovery meant signing in to a “rehab”, attending daily meetings with your peers, intensive face-to-face therapy sessions with an addiction therapist, and reading the Big Book to guide you along the 12-Step path. The recovery process could take months or even years before the addict or alcoholic was declared ready to go it alone. Then, the pandemic.
A Paradigm Shift
On-line recovery counseling was gradually coming of age before the pandemic, but the pandemic quarantine accelerated the interactive utilization of cyber tech in addiction recovery. The original “recovery apps” such as Hazelden’s “24 Hours a Day” or Alcoholics Anonymous’ (AA) “AA Big Book” were usually books, inspirational quotes, or resources for finding recovery meetings. However, interactive algorithm-driven or participatory platforms are now being utilized by “web-only” rehabs. This type of “Digital recovery” is more dynamic in nature and includes interactional, sophisticated, evidence-based computing grounded in the science of addiction.
The availability of digital recovery platforms such as “SMART Recovery,” “CheckUp & Choices,” “MyStrength,” “In The Rooms,” and “Recovery 2.0” represent a major breakthrough for connection to services for those most in need—remote communities and underserved populations—and removes one of the greatest barriers to accessing treatment—stigma.
Each allows online consumers to access and download dozens of applications. Some provide links to treatment professionals, health care providers, and treatment facilities. Today, recovery online is moving forward and expanding exponentially.
- SMART Recovery
Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) is a global community of mutual-support groups. At meetings, participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction (to drugs or alcohol or to activities such as gambling or over-eating). Participants find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives guided by a science-based program.
In addition to online community meetings and message boarding, SMART Recovery offers self-assessment opportunities for individuals and professionals as well as a “toolbox” of worksheets, podcasts, rational coping statements, relapse prevention, articles, reading lists, and a SMART Recovery dictionary. A Facebook page enhances the online community with more than 17,000 members.
- Checkup & Choices
- CheckUp & Choices dynamically adapts its presentation based on the needs of the subscriber. It incorporates reminders, trackers, counters, and notifications that provide the online client a continuous and customized support system that’s always under their control.
- These tools help to accurately identify problems, understand the causes, suggest the best solutions, and monitor progress towards goals.
- They also make it easy for the client to keep track of his/her drinking patterns, urges and cravings, moods, and to understand the interactions between them.
- My Strength
My Strength’s highly interactive, individually-tailored applications empower web users to address depression, anxiety, stress, substance use, chronic pain and sleep challenges, while also supporting the physical and spiritual aspects of whole-person health. It considers itself a daily destination for improving and maintaining overall well-being and resilience.
Professional third-party surveys have certified My Strength’s efficacy as follows:
- 43% rapid symptom reduction.
- 83% as effective as face-to-face therapy.
- 70% cost reduction.
Nothing Replaces Face-to-Face
Case workers tell us that digital recovery is designed to supplement face-to-face in a world where many cannot access or afford in-person rehabilitation. In addition, social workers and health care professionals can peer into these platforms and learn much about how recovering persons are interacting with one another and facing individual and group challenges, and how they are not only solving their own problems but also helping solve those “of the whole.”
- As one member posted on a message board: “The wisdom of the we is greater than the knowledge of the I.”
- As one case worker put it: “The future of digital recovery is now. Rather than resist, let’s learn how to use it.”