Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 11, 2022

How Technology Aids Substance Abuse Recovery

The continuous development of technology has increased the world's dependency on it. This dependency is seen in the increased number of people that use technological devices such as phones and laptops in their daily lives. These devices make it easy to access apps or platforms that make life easier as you can access services such as online banking, shopping, transport, and many more without a hassle.

Moreover, technology helps in various sectors such as health, building and infrastructure, agriculture, and many more. As discussed below, one of the roles of the health sector is to assist in substance abuse recovery. If you want to learn more about it, read more.

Substance Abuse Recovery

The first step to recovering from substance abuse is accepting that you need help to escape it. Once you've done that, the next step is to get treatment. However, the journey to recovery isn't easy, and people get triggers to return to their old ways. It is a common behavior even for people struggling to abandon their bad behavior.

Therefore, what you need is proper contingency management. Technology helps develop that. You can read more about what is an example of a contingency management intervention to get a better understanding.  

Here's how technology helps in developing better coping mechanisms among recovering addicts  

1. Technology Helps To Develop Apps That Track Recovering Journey

Technology helps developers create platforms that help substance abusers. One of the ways that these platforms help is by allowing you to track your sobriety journey.

Additionally, these apps help you to get the help you need quickly and when you need it the most. The following are some of the platforms that technology helped develop:

  • Nomo

This free app allows you to create a support group where you can share your progress with the group members. The support group entails other substance abusers and counselors. Sharing your progress with others will help you keep track of sobriety. You can communicate when you find it challenging to handle intense cravings; as people say, a shared problem is half solved. In addition, by sharing, you learn ways from the group members that you can use to control substance cravings.

  • Reset

This platform is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and you can access it only if you have a physician's prescription. This app has an age limit in that only people aged 17 years and above can access it. Reset offers lessons that guide you through the recovery stages and are covered within twelve weeks.

The above apps demonstrate how technology plays a role in substance abuse recovery. A study conducted by the FDA proved that most people who can overcome substance use are those who use apps like Reset. Without technology, these apps wouldn't have been developed, and there would be fewer recovery cases.

2. Through Telemedicine

The advancement in technology has reduced the need for physical meetings with other people. These advancements are seen in substance recovery through telemedicine. With telemedicine, you don't have to attend therapy sessions with your therapist at the clinic. Instead, you can now get in touch with your licensed therapist in the comfort of your home. Having online sessions mainly works to the advantage of the abusers who don't enjoy the need to go to recovery centers.

3. Doctors Use Neurofeedback In Recovery Treatment

Health experts incorporate technology into recovery treatment strategies, such as neurofeedback. Neurofeedback treatment involves training your brain to counteract substance cravings. This process works using computers, specialized software, and electrodes.

After using technology to observe your brainwaves, doctors decide what rewards to give you based on the observations made. For instance, doctors can offer you positive ones by showing you positive images, which, after a while, will result in your brain craving to see more of such images. The increased desire for images overpowers the urge for substance use, so you develop better coping mechanisms.

4. By Using Virtual Reality

Through virtual reality, substance abusers are put in situations that may arouse substance cravings. However, this triggering is done in a controlled way to prevent you from being overwhelmed by the feelings. These situations help you learn what triggers you to indulge in substance abuse. Moreover, you can learn the tools you can use to avoid triggers.

However, it's important to note that the use of virtual reality in substance abuse recovery is still under study. Studies are being conducted at the University of Houston to determine how effective this idea can be in substance abuse recovery.  

Furthermore, apart from finding triggers, virtual reality can help distract your brain when you're craving abusive substances. In substance abuse recovery, virtual reality's content modules command your senses with a constructed and immersive environment that distracts your brain from the craving feeling.


Although technology plays a significant part in substance abuse, it is vital to note that it can cause adverse effects if not used under controlled measures. One of the bad effects includes becoming addicted to technology in such a way that you spend most of your time playing games, chatting, and isolating yourself.

These habits aren't good as they predispose you to a new addiction and sometimes isolate you in such a way that you may seek refuge in drugs again. Therefore, you should ensure that you have controlled the use of technology.


Today, you can't avoid using technology, and even though the technology was seen in a bad light for some time, it's pretty clear that it has come to make life easier. As discussed above, a good example is how it helps medical experts assist people in their substance addiction recovery.

Author’s Bio

Dr. Henry is an expert in technology in healthcare. He has more than 20 years of experience guiding substance abuse training and recovery. His research focuses on ways technology can be incorporated into substance abuse recovery. With his experience, Dr. Henry has earned the authority to write article pieces like this one on matters of technology use in substance abuse recovery.

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