Using the internet during rehab?

Online use of the internet

Today’s world using the internet and mobile phone are seen as an everyday part of life and something that could be considered as an essential communication tool.

Many people entering into treatment see having those means of communication as something comforting and reassuring, however clinical experience and studies reveal that they can be unhelpful and disruptive.

Even with IP barring services that rehabs can put in place there are numerous ways around this so they cannot have much impact on what people can access.

Overtime I have seen a number of clients access the internet to view or take part in activities that are harmful to their recovery.  In some cases people have disengaged with treatment entirely due to events over the internet or communication with people outside of treatment.

In the modern world, very few people take any time out from being connected to everyone else. In rehab it’s a good chance to get away from previous patterns of behavior, to take some time out from those people around you and work on yourself.   Treatment times vary from 1 month to 3 months, this is actually very limited amount of time when you compare how long you may have been using your phone or been in your addiction.

Most the treatment you receive in a rehab setting requires a great deal of personal reflection and a chance to sit with feelings.

It has been clinically proven that use of mobile phones and computers work on the brain in a similar way that drugs alcohol work on the brain.  If you are constantly engaging with your phone, Facebook and other social media you are reactivating the brain in a similar way to drugs and other forms of acting out. This isn’t healthy, during the beginning of your recovery it can be very hard to self-manage and regulate internet usage.

Clinical harm caused by mobile phones and laptop are the following:

  • Poor sleep – Through blue light in LED/LCD that suppresses melatonin (Wurbton 2018)
  • Depression, anxiety and poor self image – Instagram promotes feelings being left out, comparisons to others leads to disenchanted feelings about the future or self.
  • Communication with people who are hazardous or harmful to recovery – At rehab we learn to sever links with people are could cause us direct harm in our immediate recovery (Coppello et Al 2006)
  • Keeping bad relationship dynamics– You may without know be a relationship where the dynamics are contributing to difficult feelings (Finley and Lenz 2014)
  • Lack of boundaries – In rehab we teach people that boundaries are very important to managing a healthy life, this is where we learn to put those into place
  • Gambling – Gambling is a cross addiction, anyone with addiction to any other substance is like to not reap the benefits of treatment if they are gambling whilst in treatment (National Research Council 1999)
  • Dating apps + Phone sex –  You need to focus on being in treatment and over-coming issues, dating apps are very distracting and encourage people to disengage with treatment and are thought to impair brain functionality (Young 2015)
  • Browsing through information that is hazardous to recovery – This can be very subtle but some content on internet can be harmful at this stage in your well-being, it’s important to think seriously about what you’re putting in your mind. Violent, graphic and drug related themes are best avoided whilst in recovery (Andrade and De Micheli 2016).
  • No focusing on self – You may find yourself catching up with friends or family to see how the are but you really need to question is that taking you away from your own issues?
  • Phones ARE addictive – Numerous studies over the last decade have proven that mobile phone use is an addiction itself (Delfabbro and King 2019)
  • Problematic use of the internet and Games is classified as a psychological disorder (Delfabbro and King 2019)

Gaming, phone use and the internet can all be addictive in their own right, I highly recommend that those entering into treatment hand over all electronic devices.  This may take a few days to adjust to but In a short while you will feel much better for it.

  • Written By Dylan Kerr 2019



Andrade A and Micheli D (2016) Innovations in Treatment of Substance Addiction. Published By Springer Switzerland

Copello A, Hodgson R, Orford J and Tober G (2006) Social Behaviour and Network Therapy for the Problem drinker, Published by Routledge UK

Delfabbo P and King D (2019) Internet Gaming Disorder –  Theory, Assessment, Treatment and Prevention.  Published By Academic press / Elsevier UK

Finley J and Lenz B (2014)  Addiction Treatment Homework Planner, Fifth Edition. Published by Wiley USA

National Research Council Committee on Social and Economic Impact of Pathological Gambling (1999)  Pathological Gambling – A Critical Review.  Published By National Academies Press, USA .

Wurburton W (2018) Do Mobile Phones affect Your Sleep? –The Light House website, Accessed 18/2/2019

Young K (2015) The Evolution of Internet Addiction Disorder in – Internet Addiction Neuroscientific Approaches and Therapeutical Interventions. Published By Springer UK

If you are struggling with internet addiction please contact:

Published by Dylan Kerr BA ACAT FDAP DipHE MBABCP

Mr Dylan Kerr Addictions Counselor Bachelors in Clinical Counseling (Hons) Advanced Certified Addictions Therapist Member of the British Association for Behaviour and Cognitive Psychotherapist Member of the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners HeDip Health-care HeDip Psychology of Addiction Dip Counselling Diploma in Arts Therapy Diploma in Transactional Analysis CSAT III Dylan Kerr is a Certified Substance Abuse Therapist who is qualified in Counseling, Psychology of addiction from Leeds University and Healthcare from Birmingham City University. Dylan Kerr has been a senior Therapist at the River Rehab, Lead Therapist at Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai and Head Counselor of Hope Rehab in Siracha. As well as working in Thailand for 7 years, Dylan has also been the on-tour counsellor for the the Rock band ‘The Libertines’. Dylan is now resident counsellor at an Asian rehab. Dylan has experience of working within the music industry supporting acts in therapeutic needs. As well as working around the world Dylan has over 13 years experience delivering substance use disorder treatment at various agencies around the UK. He is skilled in motivational interviewing, CBT, RET and guidance around 12 step philosophies. Dylan has worked with a broad client base and establish the rapport needed to effect change and sustainable progression. Dylan wishes to start this blog to help educate people on his observations within this field and debate the nature of work in the addictions field.

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