By Alanna Hilbink
We’re constantly connected to technology these days. Our phones are in our hands. Our TVs are on. Our computers are by our sides. Technology is a part of everyday life. It helps us stay in touch, be entertained and get work done anytime, anywhere.
So why shouldn’t you have tech at treatment?
The Downsides of Technology
Technology can be beneficial. However, its presence in our lives can also be overwhelming. Technology begins to change how we think and act. It impacts the brain’s prefrontal cortex, cerebellum and parietal lobe.
As Healthline explains, “The prefrontal cortex, which resides in the frontal lobe, controls personality, cognition and social behavior. The cerebellum coordinates and regulates muscular activity. The parietal lobe deals with interpreting language and words. Excessive use of technology … atrophies the frontal lobe, breaking down ties between different parts of the brain. Too much technology use also shrinks the outermost part of the brain, making it more difficult to process information.”1
When we rely on tech, we’re less able to manage emotions, pay attention and remember. We begin to choose using tech over interacting with others. We waste time on our phones rather than doing or developing interests and hobbies. We distract ourselves from dealing with or focusing on our mental health.
Technology and Stress
Being constantly connected to technology also makes us stressed. This stress has real effects on our mental and physical health. The Cleveland Clinic puts it this way: “Stress can bring on symptoms of depression and reduce your enthusiasm for activities you usually enjoy — from everyday hobbies to sex. People also tend to eat poorly and exercise less when stressed, which only makes symptoms stronger.”2
Stress creates a cycle of feeling worse and worse. When we don’t feel our best, we’re more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol. But the better we feel, the more likely it is we’ll able to find the motivation to get and stay sober.
Technology and Missing Connections
When we stay connected to technology, we miss out on connecting with others. According to Forbes, “It’s bad enough that we’ll interrupt what we’re doing with those we love to do something that will undoubtedly leave us more stressed — but more and more people are opting for screen time over the company of others. Three out of five people admitted to spending more of their free time on their computers than with their significant others.”3
Healthy relationships support a full and rewarding life. They support our sobriety and our mental health. When we set technology aside, we leave time and space for building real connections.
So What Can I Bring to Treatment?
The Canyon at Peace Park recognizes that a break from technology boosts your opportunity for recovery. When you choose to begin your recovery with us, we ask that you leave tech behind. Leave video games, cameras and computers at home. Forget the CD/DVD players. Don’t worry about your iPad, tablet or e-reader. You can bring an iPod if it doesn’t connect to the internet, so make sure you already have your music loaded. Staff may still ask you to turn off or set aside this tech if they feel it’s getting between you and your best chance at recovery. You can bring a cell phone, but we’ll keep it in our office safe. We have house phones and onsite computers for use when needed.
You’ll have increasing opportunities to use this tech as you progress in recovery. However after taking a break from technology, you may find you don’t even want to take advantage of these.
Stepping Back From Technology
The idea of leaving technology behind, even for just the length of treatment, can seem overwhelming. Before you let this scare you away, stop and think about the role of tech in your life. Think about its effects and about what a break from technology might mean for you and your recovery. Tech has become more than a useful tool or source of fun. We rely on it every moment of every day. We rely on it rather than learning to rely on ourselves or others. So when it’s time for treatment, it’s time to turn off technology.
Step back and focus on yourself and your health. Take full advantage of the opportunities treatment is giving you. You can learn more about your mental health. You can develop positive ways to balance feelings and emotions. You have the time and safe space to learn life skills. You can make new friends and learn how to build healthy relationships. You have the opportunity to begin a rewarding and drug-free life.
Tech, Treatment and The Canyon
Reach out to The Canyon and take full advantage of all we have to offer. Leave tech behind, and focus on yourself and your future in our treatment program. Call now to talk with one of our admissions coordinators about finding the in-depth, integrated care you or a loved one needs.
1 Alexander, Roberta, and Shawn Radcliffe. “Is Technology Causing a Lifetime of Pain for Millenials?” Healthline, August 23, 2016.
2 “7 Strange Things Stress Can Do to Your Body.” Cleveland Clinic, February 22, 2016.
3 Bruce, Jan. “4 Reasons to Turn Off Your Phone.” Forbes, June 4, 2013.