Using new technologies in addiction recovery

Posted in: 5 Ways To Wellbeing, Alcohol, Drugs by on 15 March 2013
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I had an interesting discussion earlier this week concerning our plans to use more new technology in our drug and alcohol treatment. It resulted in a piece in the local press which is always good for any organisation, and gives my Mum something for her scrapbook!

We have a strong belief in the principle that being a part of a 'recovery community' - a gathering of like minded individuals with positive shared experience of overcoming addiction - will greatly increase anyone's chances of success in achieving abstinence or stabilisation.

These might be physical communities such as a local mutual aid group, a peer group such as our excellent local Lancashire User Forum, or increasingly this might even be a 'virtual' community ie. one connected by mobile, computer or other social media in no less powerful a blend of like minded individuals. All of us live parts of our lives online in one form or another, and it could be argued that many of those with dependence might even be ahead of many with their use of social media. If we don't follow our patients to where they are living out their recovery we are missing a major trick.

Speaking to a local app developer, Moshen (who are internationally respected as a creator of apps for phones) they put us in touch with another of their clients from Manchester, Breaking Free Online. Speaking to Breaking Free it became very clear they 'got' the principle of using computers and mobiles to provide additional support for an individuals recovery. Most of our hopes for how these technologies could be used for recovery were already there in the online program they had developed.

Breaking Free Online provides an anonymous online account with a huge number of modules, videos and downloadable resources that a person may use either supported by a professional, with the help of a carer or friend or even solo. It gradually becomes a tool to enhance and reinforce their recovery skills.

In addition to the basic modules online there is now an app (for iPhone type devices, but to be extended to Android mobiles soon) that works alongside the online programme and provides additional support. For example one module online helps you map possible places in your community where you may be forced to come up with strategies to avoid the conflicting emotions they might bring about eg. walking past an off-licence for someone with an alcohol dependency. The app brings the possibility of an audible reminder if you are approaching such a 'hotspot' and remind you of the strategies that you had suggested you would follow.

None of the above is a replacement for enthusiastic professionals, supportive family and energetic peers but anything that increases an individuals skills, knowledge and provides further tools in their armoury will only help improve chances of success and reduce the chances of relapse.

We have agreements in place with Breaking Free Online to bring their programme into use in the community and are actively working to take these programmes with us into our prison treatment (we feel that some of the modules have a great potential for improving the chances of offenders aiming for recovery). Prison provides some challenges in respect to providing internet access in a custodial environment but their are ways for these to be overcome (supervision, Virtual Campus etc). As innovators in treatment we are also looking to have an active collaboration with Breaking Free to bring some additional aspects to the programme such as 5 Ways To Wellbeing.

Staff are being trained now and the first few patients have had access to this programme. We'll be coming back to you with reports as to how it is going and are delighted to be part of this exciting development.

Who's Tweeting about this:

@delphimedical gets some good press in Lancaster Guardian for use of Breaking Free Online and new app. More details by @DelphiMedical on 15/03/2013 13:42:39
We think technology can play a leading role in recovery from addiction. Find out why here by @DelphiMedical on 29/04/2013 16:16:32