Recovery 2.0: enhancing treatment with technology.

Author:Chiauzzi, Emil
 
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Because substance abuse is a chronic condition, addiction treatment is undergoing a shift from acute and episodic care toward longer-term recovery management. This includes an emphasis on monitoring, case management, and continuity (McLellan, 2002). The prevailing goal is to engage clients in treatment. Many clients have difficulties in starting treatment, such as experiencing relapse during treatment or leaving treatment prematurely. Clients may perceive treatment as ineffective, counselors as not helpful or transportation or social services as unavailable. Maintaining and tracking the engagement of clients are critical, but EAP practitioners often lack the time, resources and support to accomplish these goals.

Behavioral Health Technology Survey

With the advent of the Internet, mobile applications, and other interactive technology, behavioral health providers have new tools at their disposal. Although technology is often well integrated in medical treatment, its adoption in behavioral health treatment has not been as consistent. Inflexxion recently conducted a national survey of 709 behavioral health professionals based in free-standing treatment facilities, hospitals, and community mental health centers (Chiauzzi & Gammon, 2012). It found that respondents strongly endorsed client engagement and technology, but added that their current use of technology was mainly limited to emailing clients or recommending online educational materials. A majority of professionals recognize that technology will increasingly affect their work through interactive recovery courses, and online education, meetings, and assessments.

Applications of Technology to Treatment

Promising interactive applications in addiction treatment include online cognitive behavioral therapy-based courses, social media for support and communication, phone-based interventions, personalized feedback, and concurrent recovery monitoring (Cucciare et al., 2009). Moreover, Gustafson et al. (2011) developed an Innovations in Recovery model with six technology-related addiction treatment components:

* Social support:

* Virtual counseling;

* Education and training;

* Location tracking;

* Assessments; and

* Alerts and reminders.

The following is a look at each.

* Social support--Many clients already belong to online social groups, which suggests that many addicts may benefit from well-known addiction treatment facilitators, such as AA, NA, and Smart Recovery. There has also been an upsurge in Facebook groups and Twitter feeds by people in recovery. Anyone can find these groups through a simple online search of key words such as "addiction recovery" or "substance abuse support." However, as is the case in many online resources, clients must be counseled on how to assess the value of specific groups.

* Virtual counseling--The term "virtual counseling" is often...

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