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  • Can I Bring My Phone To Drug Or Alcohol Rehab?

    Can I Bring My Phone To Drug Or Alcohol Rehab?

    Questions regarding cell phone policy and access to personal devices are one of the biggest, and sometimes most contentious, questions that treatment program representatives and admissions counselors field on a daily basis. 

    And while the answer might not be what you want to hear, there are very good reasons why access to cell phones is highly limited or entirely disallowed in most drug and alcohol recovery programs.

    Cell Phone Rules & Policies

    Specific rules and policies vary from facility to facility. Some programs allow limited, supervised access to phones at certain stages of the process. A few allow free access to phones or computers during off-hours.

    However, as a general rule most treatment programs require participants to turn over their cell phones upon arrival and don’t give them back until it’s time to leave.

    In other words, you can bring your phone to rehab, but you usually can’t have it or use it while you’re there.

    Why Can’t I Use My Cell Phone In Rehab?

    Drug and alcohol recovery is a challenging process that requires your full attention. And smartphones are nothing if not distracting. 

    Any attention that goes to your phone is attention potentially taken away from your recovery. By removing phones from the equation, treatment centers create an environment with fewer distractions and greater focus on the work at hand.

    Cell phone use has also proven to be a source of temptation for many participants, offering a window back to their old environment, and old patterns of behavior, in the outside world. This can be a problem.

    Remember that drug and alcohol cravings can be sudden and intense, and may push you to take impulsive action, like trying to use your phone to get drugs or alcohol smuggled to you.

    Is It Actually Helpful To Give Up Cell Phone Use During Treatment?

    Think about it this way. Most drug rehab programs only last around thirty days.

    That’s around four weeks to deal with a problem that, for some, has destroyed their savings, livelihood, health, and relationships. 

    A rehab program at a treatment facility is not that much time. When you have a phone with YouTube, social media, email, and text messages eating up your time each day, that leaves even less time to try to build your new drug-free reality.

    So, rather than ask if you can have your phone in rehab, it might be better to ask yourself if you really even want it.

    Can I Still Phone Home Without My Cell Phone?

    Policies vary across different rehab facilities. Most treatment centers have a period, often five days or so, during which participants are expected to be fully focused and immersed in the program.

    This is often the period when medical detox occurs, and when participants are at their most vulnerable and uncomfortable.

    After this initial period, most treatment programs allow access to landline phones to communicate with family members and other loved ones. This can be designated once per-week time slots or without restriction during the evening hours after the day’s courses are finished.

    Other Devices

    It can be tough to miss out on gaming, news, sports, music, and more, but any personal electronic device can raise the same issues of distraction and temptation.

    Accordingly, tablets, laptops, e-readers, gaming systems, and other electronic devices are generally not permitted to be used during the initial stages of rehabilitation.

    What About Cell Phone Addiction?

    While cell phone addiction, or nomophobia, is certainly a real phenomenon, medical diagnoses of this behavioral addiction are very rare. 

    While it can be uncomfortable to be without your phone for a few days, you shouldn’t let this brief discomfort stop you from confronting your drug addiction and completing your addiction recovery program.

    What If I Leave The Rehab Center?

    If you leave rehab, as you are free to do, your cell phone and all other possessions will be returned to you. 

    However, your treatment program is intended to help you make a positive and lasting change in your life that can benefit your mind, your health, and your loved ones for years and decades to come.

    It would be tragic to give up on these benefits simply because you couldn’t check your phone.

    Cell Phone Rules Matter

    While the cell phone rules can be a point of contention, they aren’t arbitrary and they aren’t intended to punish you or make you suffer.

    For all the good that mobile devices can do, connecting us to one another and the wider world, the act of removing them from treatment centers has a powerful effect on those participating in addiction treatment programs.

    The lack of temptation and distraction can greatly improve your experience and the effectiveness of rehab treatment.

    To learn more about personalized treatment options for drug and alcohol addiction and dependency, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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