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Learn / Can You Have a Cell Phone in Rehab?

Can You Have a Cell Phone in Rehab?

By 
Kayla Gill
|
 May 22nd, 2023|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

Key Points

  • Some rehabs restrict cell phone use to promote clients’ peace and focus.
  • Some don’t limit device use at all.
  • Others have hybrid policies; check with admissions for details.

For many of those seeking treatment, finding a rehab that allows cell phones is a top priority. Having access to a personal cell phone allows you to contact your family and conduct business while in treatment. Some treatment facilities encourage you to do that by implementing no cell phone policies. Limiting your contact with the outside world lets you focus on the healing process. But for some clients, it’s important to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues during rehab. If that’s a priority for you, you can compare rehab programs with more flexible technology policies.

Rehab Centers and Cell Phone Policies

Technology use policies differ from rehab to rehab. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common policies you’ll see at addiction treatment centers:

  • Device-free centers strictly prohibit the use of technology. Usually, centers that don’t allow cell phones will keep your loved ones updated on your behalf.
  • Flexible technology-use programs let their clients maintain contact with the outside world, but still maintain some boundaries. For instance, you might need to give up your devices for the first few days of treatment. Or you might only have access to your phone during certain hours, or on certain days of the week. 
  • Technology-friendly treatment allows nearly unrestricted cell phone and laptop use. Typically, you only have to abstain from using your cell phone in clinical settings. For example, you wouldn’t be allowed to take a call during a therapy session.

For some clients, attending rehab without cell phone access isn’t a realistic option. You might have work or family commitments you just can’t step away from. But that doesn’t have to be a barrier to treatment. Many centers address this need with flexible policies. 

The Pros of Having a Cell Phone During Rehab

Drug and alcohol addiction treatment is a worthwhile but often challenging process. And data shows that social support is important during recovery.1 If you rely on loved ones for emotional support, staying in touch via phone can make it easier to heal.

You might also need to stay in contact with clients or colleagues. For many high-level executives, rehab is only possible in a center that allows cell phones. Some rehabs, like Capo Canyon, cater to these clients. Private rooms at this center even include a workstation, so you don’t have to take time off work for rehab

What’s more, having a sense of purpose reduces your risk of future drug use.2 If you find your career fulfilling, technology can have a positive impact on treatment. But if work is mainly a source of stress, you might consider a rehab with a stricter tech policy.

Capo Canyon in California accommodates clients who need to work during treatment.

The Cons of Having a Cell Phone During Rehab

While some clients benefit from having a cell phone during rehab, it can also interfere with treatment. Staying in touch with the outside world doesn’t always help you recover. 

For one thing, addiction can damage relationships. By the time you enter treatment, you and your loved ones might need a break from each other. And many people in addiction treatment have close relationships built around substance use.3 If that’s your experience, you might need to end certain friendships in order to prioritize recovery.

Rehab also gives you time to reflect on the idea of community. You can spend early recovery defining what you need your relationships to look like. That process is much more difficult if you’re talking to friends and loved ones regularly. A rehab that limits cell phone use can give you the time and space you need to heal.

Even if your loved ones are a source of support, communicating with them every day can be distracting. Rehab is hard work, and it requires your full focus. It’s hard to stay present while you’re scrolling through social media or checking your email. Taking a step back from technology might help you commit to treatment.

Transcend Recovery Community in New York allows clients “to use both their cell phone and computer unless their previous treatment center’s exit plan recommends that they don’t.”

What Tech Policies Look Like in Practice

Clients at Transcend Recovery Community in New York can stay in touch with friends and family throughout their stay. As their website explains, “when a client enters Transcend we allow them to use both their cell phone and computer unless their previous treatment center’s exit plan recommends that they don’t.”

Kembali Recovery Center in Bali, on the other hand, has some boundaries around technology use. Clients can use their phones from Friday evening until Sunday evening each week. However, they make exceptions to this rule on a case-by-case basis, letting some clients use their phones on weekdays. 

While rehabs vary in their views on device use, the goal is for technology to enhance treatment, as long as it doesn’t detract from your recovery.

Kembali Recovery Center in Bali allows clients to use their phones on weekends, but makes exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Find a Rehab Center That Allows Cell Phones

Luxury treatment centers around the world offer a broad spectrum of tech usage policies. Whether you want to work from rehab, leave your phone at home, or anything in between, you can find a program that meets your needs. 


See available treatment options at rehabs that allow cell phones and contact centers directly to learn more about their policies.


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