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Apps for Recovery: Effective or Dangerous?

Apps for Recovery: Effective or Dangerous?

New research has been examining smartphone apps that have arisen to respond to addiction, behavioral issues, and health interests. Nancy Barnett, associate professor at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, is in the developmental stages of a study gauging the effectiveness of cell-phone-based interventions. According to Barnett, “One thing that’s really attractive about these remote technologies that don’t require a person is that they have the potential to be really cost effective and the potential to reach populations that are more difficult to get to” (Peters, 2014). 


One recovery app, recoveryBox, began as an attempt to help a friend through his addiction. Developer Holly Hess designed the app to focus on accountability; The Fix writer Sarah Peters explains that “In recoveryBox, a person tracks both positive and negative choices made throughout the day and has the option to e-mail an update report to a friend or counselor” (2014). 


Despite the ongoing research into smartphone recovery apps—as well as the notion that an app might help those who are unwilling to go into treatment, or those who can’t afford treatment—there remains a debate as to whether an app is a good idea for those who might have issues with impulse control. 


Mary Andres, associate professor of clinical education at USC Rossier School of Education stated “Access feeds into addiction because of impulse control. If I can get something quicker, then I am more likely to not pause and think about if this is a good decision” (Peters, 2014). 


Either way, both Andres and Barnett agree that there are definite benefits for recovering addicts through the venues of technology such as social media and smartphone apps.




Peters, S. (2014). Recovery: There’s an app for that. The Fix. Retrieved from http://www.thefix.com/content/technology-and-addiction.