7 Ways Technology Can Assist in Addiction Recovery

Ways Technology Can Assist in Addiction Recovery
May 19, 2019
|   Updated:
August 3, 2023

For many years, addiction treatment has been more of a one-track approach, majorly focusing on the building of the individual’s moral strength and assisting them to be able to say, “No” to the substance they are abusing. Although the 12-Step Program has been highly successful at helping millions of people achieve and maintain sobriety through age-old concepts such as personal accountability and fellowship, other approaches can also be included to this addiction treatment program which can further improve outcomes.

Treatment centers such as the Wilmington treatment center can now rely on a variety of scientific, technological, and holistic health advancements, which can help people to achieve and maintain sobriety. Aside from this, the implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act has caused an increase in the demand for substance use treatment. This increase in demand is however, not backed up by an increase in counselors and their ability. There are still limitations on how, when, and where counselors can meet with their clients.

The inclusion of technology in treatment plans can help clients and health care providers to overcome these limitations and obstacles, hence providing for a more effective treatment.

1. EMDR Computer Aided Recovery

It is not unusual to find substance abusers whose root cause of abuse stems from self-medication for past trauma. Therefore, this makes EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) a very beneficial technological aid for handling their addiction treatment. The EMDR is a therapy originally developed for treating trauma. It is a very prevalent and effective therapeutic approach, as studies have shown that it can quickly produce positive changes in clients. This way, people who have the root cause of their addiction as self-medicating for trauma can receive appropriate treatment.

With the use of computers to guide clinicians, present-day technology has made the administration of this therapy much more straightforward. The EMDR-Aid is a program which assists clinicians to ascertain how their clients are responding to treatment and at the same time, help control the exposure to stimuli by clients.

2. Vibroacoustic Therapy

For countless years music has been used as a tool for healing. You actually do not have to suffer from any clinical symptoms to know that listening to good songs can improve your mood and possibly even add a smile to your face. However, the music does not just affect a person’s emotional state but also a person’s physical state, and this is the rationale behind vibroacoustic therapy.

Vibroacoustic therapy is believed to help soothe or stimulate energy in the listener’s body. This transformation occurs at a cellular level, where the body is constantly in a state of motion. Sounds are applied directly to the body during the therapy in order to bring about healing via vibrations. The first time the advantages of this approach was observed was in treating physical conditions, such as addressing the symptoms of cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and pain.

Vibroacoustic therapy has however been extended and can now be utilized in the addiction recovery. This therapy can help to address their anxiety and self-harming tendencies, hence improving the outcome by assisting clients to be more mindful during their addiction treatment program.

3. HeartMath

There was a time when doctors assumed that the mind and body were two separate entities, but it has now been proven that emotional turmoil can have a bodily effect and vice versa. The aim of HeartMath is to quantify that connection. HeartMath can be used by clients to monitor their vital signs such as heart rate and can observe how their physical system calms and responds as they work through the recovery program. By observing real progress towards overall wellness, clients can feel more in control of their health.

4. Therapeutic Education System (TES)

This is a web-based and self-directed interactive education program developed for clients who are battling with substance abuse. One such program designed by Lisa A. Marsch, the Director of the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health is being tested as a complement to community-based out-client therapy.

The program employs computer simulation of real-world “what-if” type of scenarios which are made available in video format. A good example is when a video about saying no to drugs shows a young lady who refused the drug offered to her by a group of friends. Although the girl says the right thing by turning down the drug her body language is not as convincing. The program requires that the user re-watch the video and pay particular attention to the young lady’s body language. The aim is to encourage users to make eye contact and show the necessary resolve when saying no to drugs.

5. Computer-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is concerned with introducing clients to important concepts such as understanding and changing patterns of substance use, managing cravings, refusing the offer of alcohol and drugs, and improving decision making and problem-solving skills. Therapists are now accomplishing these goals through the use of computers. One such system, tested by Kathleen Carrol and her colleague at Yale, uses a six-game module which is designed on a previously proven CBT model. In the end, 36 percent of clients for the computer training group was able to remain abstinent from cocaine for a significant period of time as compared to 17 percent for the group which didn’t have any such computer assistance.

6. Soberlink Real-Time Alcohol Monitoring

It is known that the majority of clients who leave in-client rehabilitation centers end up relapsing during their first year of sobriety. Despite this shocking revelation, there are not many pieces of technology that continue to connect the client to their Treatment Provider during their first year in recovery. The Soberlink system offers a discreet, portable breathalyzer that sends scheduled test results wirelessly and in real-time to the client’s Recovery Circle. The device is also connected to a cloud-based portal that automates everything and organizes the testing information into easily digestible, comprehensive reports.

Soberlink is FDA cleared, and has been proven to work for Licensed Professional programs. Soberlink Alcohol Monitoring provides support during recovery in a way that is not invasive to the client’s life.

7. Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-Chess)

As mentioned, the first year of sobriety is the hardest for clients, causing the most relapse during this time. This is what led the development of the Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-Chess), a smartphone app designed by David Gustafson of the University of Wisconsin. The app offers on-going support to recovering addicts on their smartphone 24/7. The app also comes with static components like guided meditation. There are also dynamic features on the phone which are triggered by GPS and would send messages to users when they are within the proximity of bars, liquor store, or other areas which are regarded as high risk. The app simply gives a gentle reminder, asking users if they really want to be where they are.

In a comparative study, clients are randomly given usual care or usual care plus A-CHESS. At the end of the study, it was observed that A-CHESS improved a number of clinical outcomes. The longer the app was used, the more significant the outcome. When compared to those receiving typical care, A-CHESS users were found to be 8% more likely to remain sober after using A-CHESS for 4 months. Although this may not be considered statistically significant, at 12 months A-CHESS users were found to be 12% more likely to be abstinent. This number is both statistically and clinically significant.


Technology has the power to improve substance abuse prevention and treatment in a way that reaches a new target audience and is cost-effective. The more technology evolves, the more clinicians and other health providers will be able to employ it to reach their clients in novel ways through real-time intervention and education. Now is the time in which searching “recovery centers near me” on Google generates a wide range of treatment programs identifying a solution to an individual’s dilemma in order to accomplish long-term sobriety and recovery from substance abuse addiction.

About the Author

Yamini is a content strategist at Addiction Recovery Center who enjoys learning about the Addiction Recovery field. She specializes in guest blogging, blog publishing, and social media. She is an avid reader and loves writing content that pertains to Addiction Recovery. She holds a bachelor degree in commerce.

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