"A False Sense of Security”: Dr. Aaron Robb, Forensic Therapist, Discusses the Hidden Dangers of Easy-to-Beat Alcohol Monitoring Technology

"A False Sense of Security”: Dr. Aaron Robb, Forensic Psychologist, Discusses the Hidden Dangers of Easy-to-Beat Alcohol Monitoring Technology
February 9, 2024
|   updated:
April 17, 2024

When it comes to family law and addiction recovery, the ability to monitor an individual’s sobriety accurately is not just a matter of compliance—it's a safeguard against serious consequences.                                                                                                                                           

Unfortunately, attempting to cheat alcohol monitoring systems is common. Examples of ways that people will try to do this include:

  • Physical Tampering: This involves opening the device and altering its parts. If done correctly, the system will keep showing negative results on all tests, even if the user is consuming alcohol.
  • Using a Second Device: This involves purchasing a second, identical monitoring device. During testing, a sober individual will blow into the actual monitoring device while the person being tested simultaneously blows into the secondary device on camera. This creates deceptive photo or video evidence.
  • Utilizing Another Air Source: This involves using a mechanical air pump or a similar device to replicate human breath. The user connects this air source to the monitoring device, avoiding the need to blow into it personally.

When a monitoring system can be beaten in ways such as the above, it can endanger the life of the user, jeopardize the safety of children, and create a false sense of security for all involved parties.

To help educate people on the importance of understanding how dangerous easy-to-beat alcohol monitoring technology can be, Dr. Aaron Robb, a Forensic Therapist, shares his 20+ years of experience working with individuals and families.

Man and woman having a conversation

The Deceptive Nature of Addiction

To address the importance of reliable monitoring technology, Dr. Robb starts by emphasizing a critical aspect of addiction: the issue of honesty. He alerts us to the fact that those struggling with addiction may not always be truthful about their alcohol use. "I think most people understand that you shouldn't necessarily trust the self-report of somebody who's in the throes of an addiction," he cautions. "Addicts say things in order to maintain their addiction. They lie to people." It’s important to remember that this is not a reflection of an individual’s morals. Rather, it’s a symptom of the disease of addiction.

Furthermore, Dr. Robb points out the inherent deceptive nature of addiction in terms of physical presentation. He notes that “how severe an addict they are” greatly influences how they appear to others. Individuals with severe Alcohol Use Disorder might seem sober because their addiction has altered their "normal baseline functioning.” This physical masking of intoxication makes it even more challenging to discern their true state.

The combination of these challenges — the tendency to be dishonest about alcohol consumption and the physical disguise of intoxication — underscores the importance of reliable alcohol monitoring technology. 

Why Unreliable Monitoring is Worse Than No Monitoring

With the complex challenges of addiction in mind, Dr. Robb sheds light on the limitations of alcohol monitoring systems that can easily be beaten. He straightforwardly states, “I frankly think the monitoring system in place that they're able to cheat is the much bigger issue because you've got a false sense of confidence with those folks.”

Elaborating on the dangers of unreliable monitoring, Dr. Robb warns, 'If you get lulled into a false sense of security with a device that's easy to bypass, you're making bad decisions.” An unreliable monitoring system, prone to being tricked or bypassed, can be more hazardous than not having any monitoring in place. Its failure to accurately reflect an individual's sobriety status compromises the integrity of recovery efforts and endangers the well-being of everyone involved.

Specifically in Family Law and custody situations, Dr. Robb addresses how weak monitoring systems cause “harm to the kids involved and self-harm to the addict,” he states. “They're reinforcing the problem parts of their relationship rather than getting their substance abuse taken care of.” 

Practical Guidance for Choosing an Alcohol Monitoring System

When selecting an alcohol monitoring system for addiction recovery and family law, it is essential to consider these crucial questions:

1. How Do You Know the Right Person is Testing?

This can be challenging when relying solely on images or videos, as there's always the possibility of having someone else use another device out of the external camera's view.

As Dr. Robb notes, the ingenuity in faking tests is often remarkable. Therefore, choosing a system equipped with advanced identification technology, such as facial recognition built-in, is critical to prevent such deceptions and ensure accurate testing.

2. How Do You Know They're Actually Using Human Breath?

The risk of individuals using devices like air pumps to trick the system is a significant concern. Dr. Robb points out the importance of being able to detect this, "so we're alerted that there's a discrepancy that allows us as professionals to go back and say, ‘What's really going on there?’"

A robust system that can distinguish between human breath and other air sources, backed by a team capable of evaluating these tests, is crucial for reliable monitoring.

3. How Do People Know Testing Protocols?

Treating addiction with respect and understanding is vital. Addiction and AUD are medical conditions requiring proper management and care. Dr. Robb emphasizes the need for clear protocols and support, similar to administering a prescription and instructions for medicine, as “no machine is going to be perfect,” and it’s so important to have support to “verify this is working the way it’s supposed to.”

A system with clear testing protocols, backed by contracts or agreements, ensures that the users and the professionals involved have a mutual understanding and a reliable framework to work within, supporting effective recovery and treatment.

Woman working in an assembly line

Soberlink's Technological Edge

Soberlink stands as the leader in creating alcohol monitoring technology that is difficult to beat. This commitment is born from an understanding of the dangers inherent in easily cheated monitoring systems. Dr. Robb affirms Soberlink's effectiveness: "It is the best thing out there as far as getting accurate results."

Woman using Soberlink Device

Facial Recognition and Tamper Detection:

Soberlink's system integrates advanced facial recognition technology and a built-in camera to take pictures during tests. This dual approach ensures that the correct person is taking the test and allows Soberlink’s expert team to check the images for any signs of tampering. The built-in technology means you cannot manipulate evidence by purchasing a second device. Dr. Robb notes the efficacy of these features: "The onboard camera is amazing, and I have seen now some pretty strange ways people have tried to beat that unsuccessfully."

Further, Soberlink has proprietary tamper detection technology that flags any attempts to use artificial air or physically alter the machine.

Hands holding a phone that displays a text message from Soberlink

Real-Time Monitoring and Immediate Results:

Another standout feature of Soberlink is its real-time monitoring capability. Dr. Robb highlights the importance of this functionality: "The other piece I love is the real-time monitoring being able to say we know within a couple of minutes of a positive test." 

This feature is critical in managing and adjusting treatment promptly, as human behavior is best addressed with immediate, small corrections.

Support man

Monitoring Agreements and Professional Support:

Soberlink also ensures clear testing protocols and agreements backed by professional support. This approach is essential for maintaining the system's integrity and effectiveness.

Dr. Robb emphasizes the value of Soberlink's support: "That back-end professional support that Soberlink gives is a real critical piece of the puzzle as well." It highlights Soberlink's dedication not just to technology but to comprehensive care and management.

Unmatched Technological Superiority:

Dr. Robb explicitly states that when it comes to technology that is not easy to beat, Soberlink has no competitors. He advises against compromising on quality, especially in family law cases involving children: "Nobody should try to do this work on the cheap.” According to Dr. Robb, trying to use low-cost alternatives that are meant for recreational use or self-monitoring in Addiction and Family Law situations is dangerous for all parties involved.

That statement underscores Soberlink’s unique position in the market, emphasizing its unparalleled commitment to reliable and effective alcohol monitoring technology. 

The Imperative of Reliable Monitoring: The Responsible Choice

The danger of an easy-to-beat system lies not only in the failure to detect alcohol consumption but in the potential aftermath due to the false security of that failure. Soberlink's technology offers unprecedented reliability in a field where certainty is not just a convenience but a necessity.

For those in the position to decide, the choice is clear: opting for a monitoring system that upholds the highest standards is the only responsible path forward.

About Soberlink

The Soberlink system tracks a user’s alcohol levels throughout the day with a discreet and portable breathalyzer. To ease concerns about the accuracy of the results, Soberlink includes key features like facial recognition and sensors that detect tamper attempts. The BAC readings are instantly sent to concerned parties via text or email to rebuild trust.

Learn More About Soberlink

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