Recently, an article was published suggesting that the internet—and specifically recovery apps—were going to replace the traditional brand of recovery.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been developing the app with the aim of helping addicts and alcoholics following initial treatment. As of right now, the app has 17 functions as of right now, and has already undergone extensive testing. It will debut sometime later in the year ahead.
Some of these features range from the locations for bars (as a sort of “get out of here now!” type feature) to having direct links to forums and counselors in case the addict or alcoholic with the app feels a moment of danger lies ahead.
We have always been supportive of any aims that help addicts and alcoholics live happy, productive lives free from drug and alcohol addiction. In that sense, we think this is a great thing for users who use the app as it is intended: as a tool.
The idea that recovery apps like these will completely overtake more traditional and conventional means is not going to happen. The downsides of these recovery-oriented apps are that users might get a false sense of security.
As always, it is the addict/alcoholic in question, and their relationship with their Higher Power and their own program that will determine whether or not the drink stays on the bar or goes down the hatch.
To that end, the personal relationships that the addict or alcoholic has (or not) is what will ultimately prove the usefulness of such a program. Without the basic framework and foundation, there is no context, and these features are little more than a hodge-podge of tangentially related functions. Further, it is not necessarily the lack of post-addiction treatment (something with which we are quite diligent here at 449Recovery). In many circumstances, it is the lack of willingness to usethe tools that are available. Obviously, this is not always the case, but the suggestion that addiction professionals essentially cut off the newly-clean-and-sober addict/alcoholic is disingenuous at best.
But, if it is used as it is intended, this could be exceptionally helpful—assuming one has the presence of mind to use it to his or her advantage. After all, an app that shows where a bar is nearby can either help the alcoholic avoid it, or show him or her where to drink as fast as possible.
So far, the tests look rather promising, but the numbers are still too low and homogenous to make any real determinations (170 participants from 4 treatment centers in and around Wisconsin). Perhaps not so coincidentally, the most common issues associated with the recovery app are related to a loss of interest over time. Make of that what you will…
Realistically, all of these functions can—and are—served already. Addicts and alcoholics are encouraged from Day 1 to establish a network of people they can call in the event they start getting squirrelly—and since the recovery app is hosted on a smartphone, the question then becomes, “How useful is a recovery app that supports doing something I should already be doing?”
What do you think? Is this going to help, or give a false sense of security to the newly recovering? Let us know in the comments!