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I often wonder what 12-step recovery would be like if during the start, Bill Wilson had an iPhone. With addiction rampant in younger generations, treatment centers pushing folks to 12-step recovery like never before and the recovery statistics not changing; is the cell phone helping or hurting? We have these amazing technological advances all around us, but is it actually helping us? Is the “smart” phone making us “smart”?

Back in the 40’s through the 80’s, if you were struggling from alcoholism or addiction and needed help, it was necessary to have some pocket change to make a call at the pay phone. If you were planning a trip and looking for a meeting you had to write letters or make calls days or weeks in advance to plan accordingly. However, this is not the experience of the 12-step member today. Today, all that’s needed is to reach into your pocket and pull out that nifty little device that gives us a world of information.

Yes, the cell phone makes finding a meeting easy or even texting a friend to say hello more convenient. But it is not actually increasing ones chances for success in 12-step recovery, and it could be actually hurting the younger, mid 20s population. Why? Because deep connection with another human being is missing.

Yes, for some folks cell phones make it easy. We have some cute and handy little apps that you can log your recovery goals and get rewards but this just is not enough. We are dealing with a generation of opiate addicts. Young folks that are emotionally incapable of being vulnerable, uncomfortable or humble. The damage being caused in the human psyche from the intoxicating amounts of substances has left us with shells of emotionless children. The cell phone makes connecting with people easy but the connections are superficial and fueled by an alter identity constructed by how one thinks others feel about them. It gives them a quick fix or a distraction to the emptiness that is filled by drugs and alcohol. The “smart” phone feeds into the emotional discomfort and fills that spiritual void these individuals have.

I mean, can you imagine never looking another person in the eye? With this young population I often have to say, “did you talk to or text your sponsor”. I noticed that I would ask, if they talked to their sponsor and what they mean is they had a brief text conversation. I also find myself falling into this trap. However, this is not and can never be a replacement for the human experience found in a solid relationship with a sponsor. The cell phone does make it easy to connect, but it makes hiding behind a tiny screen even easier.

One of the key ingredients at Surfside, is that our residents build deep connections with each other over a long period of time. Not only do they build these connections with each other, they build them with their sponsor as well. As human beings, regardless of our background, we need a sense of belonging. A real sense of connection with people. We need to feel like we are “apart” of the bigger picture or the whole group.

If you are struggling with addiction and please pick up the phone. If you are apart of 12-step recovery call your sponsor, become vulnerable and let the healing process begin.

If you need help with addiction or related information please call Surfside Recovery Services at 609-709-0245 for any questions.