"The Phone is my Lifeline": Use of Mobile Phone Technology to Support Recovery among Individuals in Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

A Viera, C Tengatenga, E McBurney, J Lauckner, E Tran, J L Muilenburg, T S Kershaw, C Lauckner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: People experiencing substance use disorders (SUD) face myriad challenges in maintaining changes in substance use after treatment. Mobile phones can play a role in supporting the recovery process. To date, research has not explored how individuals use mobile phones to seek social support as they enter SUD recovery. Objectives: We sought to understand how individuals in SUD treatment use mobile technology in support of their recovery. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with thirty individuals in treatment for any SUD in northeastern Georgia and southcentral Connecticut. Interviews explored participants' attitudes toward mobile technology and how they used mobile technology while using substances, in treatment, and in recovery. Qualitative data were coded and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: We identified three major themes related to how participants: (1) adapted their use of mobile technology as they entered recovery, (2) relied on mobile technology for social support while in recovery, while (3) some found aspects of mobile technology triggering. Many individuals in SUD treatment reported using mobile phones to buy or sell drugs; as such, they took measures to adapt their use of mobile technology as they changed substance use behaviors. As they entered recovery, individuals relied on mobile phones for affiliational, emotional, informational, and instrumental support, though some did share they found some aspects of mobile phones triggering. Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of treatment providers engaging in conversations around mobile phone use to help individuals avoid triggers and connect with social supports. These findings uncover new opportunities for recovery support interventions utilizing mobile phones as a delivery mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jun 18 2023


Dive into the research topics of '"The Phone is my Lifeline": Use of Mobile Phone Technology to Support Recovery among Individuals in Treatment for Substance Use Disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this