Can your phone help you kick drugs and drinking?

Technology is taking the decades-long tradition of 12-step programs and drug and alcohol treatment to new places. Social networks have enabled the once-anonymous to share their stories of recovery in 140-character updates. Bloggers have used posts to openly discuss being clean and sober and message boards have offered support outside of meeting rooms. Soon, smart phones could take Recovery 2.0 one step further.

Engineering researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s have developed a smart phone app that will be tested by treatment centers to assist addicts who are currently in recovery or have just left a treatment facility. The app offers quick, simple connection to sponsors, a 24-hour counseling hotline, their treatment center of choice, and friends, peers, or family who are critical to the recovery process.

Dubbed ACHESS (for Addiction-Center for Health Enhancement System Studies), the app also has a panic button that can be custom programmed. Specialized GPS also helps the person in recovery with support or signals if she nears places that have been a trigger for drinking or drug use, such as a much-frequented bar.

Kim Johnson, one of the app creators, says that the new technology is intended to serve as one more touch point for people who are dealing with this chronic disease “all the time.”

Although the app cannot take the place of professional treatment, it may offer critical support at the push of a button, says Dale Redlich, Founder of the Challenges Addiction Treatment Center, where the app will be offered.

‚ÄúThis enhances the ability of someone to maintain an active and healthy recovery as a critical component of relapse prevention,” Redlich explained.

Review by Editor:

This could be a marvelous addition to treatment centers and out patient centers – but I’d caution about the tradition of Anonimity being broken by the zealous among us who want to shout sobriety from the rooftops. It has a place, in and out of print and electronics. We’ve entered the age of change but we must use that change with prudence.