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Alcohol and Drug Rehabs that Allow Cell Phones

Andrew McKenna - Expert Content Editor

Updated 05/30/2023

Alcohol and Drug Rehabs That Allow Cell Phones

Do rehab centers allow you to bring and use your cell phones? Short answer, Yes and No. The policies regarding cell phone usage at rehabilitation centers can vary widely. Some rehab centers may allow patients to bring their phones but restrict usage during certain hours or in certain areas, while others may prohibit phones entirely. The rationale behind restricting cell phone usage is to help patients focus on their recovery without the distractions or triggers that social media and other outside influences can bring. Ultimately, it is best to check with the specific rehab center you plan to attend to learn about their specific policies and guidelines regarding cell phone usage. Although rehab is a critical part of recovery for anyone who is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, it is usually initially approached with a great deal of fear, uncertainty, apprehension and reluctance. Residential alcohol and drug rehabs represent a strange new environment in a time when you or your loved one is just about the most vulnerable that you’ll ever be in your life. You’re sick from withdrawal, scared of what’s going to happen to you, and generally turned off to treatment, even though you’re there to get better. At the same time, you’re undoubtedly worried about what residential treatment will mean for your job, your family relationships and virtually every other aspect of your life.

Often, one of the only links you have to the life you know is your cell phone; and taking that away can have unintended consequences that can derail your recovery. Data from the Pew Research Center indicates that over five billion people use cell phones. At the same time, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that nearly two million Americans receive treatment for addiction each year. The overlap in these populations represents a clear reliance and their importance in our everyday lives.

As counterintuitive as it might seem, given their potential to contribute to drug diversion, there are times when it’s beneficial to look for rehabs that allow cell phones when you’re dealing with alcohol or drug addiction.

Advantages of Rehabs that Allow Cell Phones

Most inpatient addiction treatment centers will not allow cell phones for at least the initial part of treatment. They understandably want you or your loved one to focus on recovery; however, many allow cell phone access later on in the program at limited intervals while not in treatment sessions. There are also addiction treatment programs for specific types of populations.

Some of primary benefits of rehabs that allow cell phones include:

    • Being Able to Stay in Touch with Your Job – The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) indicates that over 70 percent of those who are battling substance use disorder are employed. At the same time, SAMHSA reports that over 11 percent of those employed in the management sector (executives, business managers, etc.) are currently battling substance use disorder. These professionals rely on their cell phones to keep them plugged into their careers and their livelihoods, and many see their job as their primary identity. Being able to stay connected avoids the anxiety of not knowing what is going on at their jobs and companies.

    • The Ability to Stay in Touch with Family – While family can often be the primary driver of substance abuse, they can also be a needed support system with whom we can’t afford to lose touch during addiction treatment. Rehabs that allow cell phones let clients stay in touch with their families so they can continue to stay connected to the people they care about, discuss their progress and continue to seamlessly cultivate a post-treatment support system that can mean the difference between lasting recovery and relapse.

    • Staying Connected with Romantic Partners – Our boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses and romantic partners are often the only thing keeping us going when we’re in addiction, and our primary motivation for getting into treatment. Not being able to speak with your significant other can cause a great deal of strain on your relationship, which can compound your anxiety in treatment and prevent you from concentrating on your recovery. Even less frequent and scheduled contact with the person you love can give you the motivation and comfort you need to stay focused on treatment.

Some rehab facilities will allow use of cell phones at designated times, others allow less monitored access to give patients comfort, peace of mind and independence.

Potential Dangers of Rehabs that Allow Cell Phones

While it can be good for patients’ mental health to be able to stay in touch with their families, colleagues and support systems, it can also be a mechanism through which patients can try and prematurely exit their program, procure drugs, bring them into their facility and relapse. It’s up to treatment centers’ security personnel to maintain vigilance to ensure that no drugs enter their facility.