I have a good friend, a member of one of the Anonymous programs and a self-described “old fart, with over 30 years sobriety,” who goes nuts when his sponsees text him, instead of calling. “How do I know how you’re really feeling, really doing, through a text message. I don’t! I need to hear your voice!” Well, he’s got a point, but… that’s sponsor to sponsee, what about peer coaching, the more likely interaction with instant messaging? What about when one addict reaches out to another through texting?
In one study done on teenage addicts in Philadelphia (published in 2009), peer support or “recovery coaching” offered through the use of text messaging showed promising results. Ditto in this very same study for involvement in social networking websites. I found another study done of crystal use and prevention with MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) that concluded “An IT [information technology] intervention using text-messaging, social networking sites or a combination of IT communication options is an innovative and feasible way to reach and intervene with out-of-treatment, methamphetamine-using MSM.”
A web search reveals a few currently ongoing studies about how texting relates to relapse prevention and intervention, but they are not complete yet. Other than becoming addicted to such technology, or the internet in general (a wholly different post), the only other problem with IT I found is that, since most studies take several years, the technology used might become obsolete by a study’s end. In the IT world of mobile communication things change fast. But we can generalize and look at the principle. So, here’s what I’ve come to:
First, whether you’re texting or tweeting or something new in the future, information technology—changing rapidly as it is, connecting us almost instantly with another addict, be they next door or on another continent—is definitely here to stay. And, bottom line, it’s a connection. And the few studies so far seem to indicate it works in intervention and breaking a craving cycle just as talking to someone voice-to-voice does. Think of it as one more tool in our toolkit. It is still one addict reaching out to another. A model that’s worked pretty well since it was started 80 years ago in Akron, Ohio, right?
Bottom line for now: So far, the studies indicate that information technology as relapse prevention works. So text and tweet away. Just make sure you’ve got in-person, flesh to flesh contact as well. Often known as a meeting [smile] and fellowship.
[Note: this posting appeared in a slightly altered form in May of 2013.]