Can Technology Help Treat Substance Abuse?

There was a time when talking about substance abuse problems is as taboo as eating pork for some religious groups. There is still a stigma surrounding the issues of drug and alcohol abuse. However, more people are starting to discuss it because the reality surrounding it cannot be denied. The truth is that substance abuse problems are an issue in many societies. From more advanced Western societies to the far-flung tribes in Southeast Asia, you will find substance abuse stories that will shake you to the core.

Over the past decade, technology overshadowed all the developments in other industries and sectors. The world seemed to be focused on the new smartphone, laptop, television, and social media platform. Where was the discussion about using technology for mobility for disabled people? How about the fact that technology is helping drug and alcohol rehab institutions come up with new methods of helping substance abuse patients?

An Interesting Fact

Do you know that 54.1% of people with substance abuse problems are below the age of 18? The National Institute of Drug Abuse said this fact offers doctors and therapists a better method to help their patients. Why not use technology to reach out to this generation addicted also to smartphones and social media? Isn’t that smartphone they hold 24 hours a day the best device to help them cope with substance abuse?

Many consider technology a part of the problem of substance abuse. With the media trying to make it look like college students who party all night and drink tons of beer are part of the cooler crowd, it’s no wonder those who are not privy to these parties feel inadequate. Many of them turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with these insecurities.

Sure, technology has benefits, but there are times its disadvantages far outweigh what it can do to substance abusers. It’s different this time, though. Rehab centers found a way to use technology-based interventions for anyone with substance abuse disorders.

24/7 Availability

Substance abuse patients still reel from the stigma of having to talk about a mental health issue. The solution is to make mental health services, therapies, and counseling sessions available 24/7. This is important since many of these patients tend to relapse in the middle of the night when these resources are no longer available to them. There is no guarantee that they will only encounter temptations during office hours.

The round-the-clock availability of the services is more cost-efficient, especially for university students who balk at the pressure of college work. A study also conducted into how people with substance abuse problems seek help found that young people are unlikely to ask professionals. However, access to these treatments and sessions 24/7 will have a positive impact on younger people who refuse to attend face-to-face counseling.

social media apps

Smartphone Apps

Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can install several apps that will help them monitor their health and habits. At the same time, these apps have a program that allows it to send inspiring stories of people who walked away from their addictions. They also alert the users if they are slipping on their promise of lessening substance use.

Some apps are moderated and regulated by doctors and mental health experts. Patients can actually receive out-patient care when they log in to the system. Though more expensive than most of the apps, these in-depth health-based programs are very discreet. All counseling, therapies, and medication are done via the app. So, unless anyone else has access to your smartphone, no one will know about your addiction.

Social Media

While social media can be the nemesis of those who are trying to stop substance abuse, it can also be a tool for them. Many people build communities on social media. There, they can share their stories of survival and failures. They also share tips and advice on how people new in the program can cope with the challenges of eliminating substance abuse from their lives.


Access to mental health care was one of the main problems during the height of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Many patients were unable to attend face-to-face meetings and consultations. The only saving grace is that they can talk with their therapists through teleconferencing. But was it the same? Hardly. A survey of rehab patients showed how ineffective and unsustainable these virtual counseling sessions are.

Technology has gone a long way. It is now taunted to be the best thing for people with substance abuse problems. Although there is still a stigma surrounding these kinds of problems in society, more people will feel empowered to seek professional help because of its accessibility and availability.

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