Technology Use Patterns Among Patients Enrolled in Inpatient Detoxification Treatment

J Addict Med. 2019 Jul/Aug;13(4):279-286. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000494.


Background: Technology-based interventions offer a practical, low-cost, and scalable approach to optimize the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) and related comorbidities (HIV, hepatitis C infection). This study assessed technology use patterns (mobile phones, desktop computers, internet, social media) among adults enrolled in inpatient detoxification treatment.

Methods: A 49-item, quantitative and qualitative semi-structured survey assessed for demographic characteristics, technology use patterns (ie, mobile phone, text messaging [TM], smart phone applications, desktop computer, internet, and social media use), privacy concerns, and barriers to technology use. We used multivariate logistic regression models to assess the association between respondent demographic and clinical characteristics and their routine use of technologies.

Results: Two hundred and six participants completed the survey. Nearly all participants reported mobile phone ownership (86%). Popular mobile phone features included TM (96%), web-browsers (81%), and accessing social media (61%). There was high mobile phone (3.3 ± 2.98) and phone number (2.6 ± 2.36) turnover in the preceding 12 months. Nearly half described daily or weekly access to desktop computers (48%) and most reported internet access (67%). Increased smartphone ownership was associated with higher education status (P = 0.022) and homeless respondents were less likely to report mobile phone ownership (P = 0.010) compared to participants with any housing status (ie, own apartment, residing with friends, family, or in a halfway house). Internet search engines were used by some participants (39.4%, 71/180) to locate 12 step support group meetings (37%), inpatient detoxification programs (35%), short- or long-term rehabilitation programs (32%), and outpatient treatment programs (4%).

Conclusions: Technology use patterns among this hard-to-reach sample of inpatient detoxification respondents suggest high rates of mobile phone ownership, TM use, and moderate use of technology to facilitate linkage to addiction treatment services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New York City
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Text Messaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult