Do Outpatient Rehabs Allow Cell Phones?

Some outpatient rehab programs require you to surrender or turn off your cell phone upon entering the facility. This rule can help you focus on treatment and avoid triggers. Other programs let you use your phone during designated breaks, typically to contact your support system or employer.

Many inpatient addiction treatment programs ban or heavily regulate the use of cell phones. These rules help protect people from drug dealers and other negative influences in the outside world. If you choose an outpatient rehab program, however, cell phone rules may vary.

Outpatient Rehab & Cell Phone Use

In an outpatient rehab program, you regularly visit an addiction treatment facility while living at home. There are three main types of outpatient rehab:

No matter the type, each rehab facility establishes its own rules regarding cell phone use. Ask about these rules before choosing a facility.

Why Some Outpatient Rehabs Ban Cell Phones

Some treatment centers require you to surrender your cell phone as soon as you enter the facility. You will get it back once you finish treatment for the day. Other facilities let you keep your cell phone on hand as long as you turn it off or silence it.

Many rehab centers have similar rules for other electronic devices, such as laptops and tablets.

Better Focus On Treatment

All of these rules help you stay focused on treatment. Depending on your needs, your outpatient treatment plan may include a variety of services, including:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in which a therapist helps you change unhelpful beliefs and behaviors that may contribute your substance misuse
  • group therapy, in which a therapist teaches you and your peers how to navigate the addiction recovery process
  • family therapy, in which a therapist helps you and your family members manage conflicts and rebuild healthy relationships
  • support groups, in which you can discuss your experiences and coping strategies with other people recovering from drug addiction
  • wellness activities, such as exercise, yoga, and meditation

Each of these treatment strategies requires your full attention. Your cell phone presents a number of distractions, including social media and phone calls, that could disrupt your treatment process.

Protection From Negative Influences

Along with helping you focus, a cell phone ban can protect you from negative influences.

Some people in rehab use their phones to contact drug dealers or other harmful individuals who encourage their drug use. Even if you don’t seek out these contacts, they could reach out to you and increase your risk of relapse.

You may also encounter negative influences and triggers on social media. In addiction recovery, a trigger is anything that makes you want to start misusing drugs again. Common triggers you might find on your phone include:

  • social media posts about drugs
  • social media posts by people you used to do drugs with
  • news stories about drugs
  • alcohol advertisements


In addition, you may get triggered by any content that causes negative feelings, such as sadness, anger, or uncertainty.

Many people try to cope with these feelings by misusing drugs, which leads to addiction. You will learn healthier ways to manage these feelings during outpatient treatment. Popular methods include journaling, meditating, exercising, and reaching out to loved ones.

It takes time to develop these coping skills and figure out which ones work best for you. Thus, in early recovery, it’s usually best to avoid triggering content when possible. Surrendering or turning off your cell phone is one of the easiest ways to do so.

Why Some Outpatient Rehabs Allow Cell Phones

Some outpatient rehab programs allow you to keep your cell phone without turning it off. However, you typically won’t be allowed to look at your phone in therapy, support groups, or other treatment sessions. Instead, you may only use it during designated breaks.

Even so, you might find that simply hanging on to your cell phone improves your sense of well-being.

Support & Encouragement

In the early days of recovery, you may experience a variety of unpleasant feelings, including anxiety, guilt, and hopelessness. Your family and friends can help ease these feelings with their support and encouragement.

Closer To Support System

During an outpatient treatment session, you might feel disconnected from your support system. This disconnection can take a toll on your mood, which makes it hard to focus on treatment. These feelings may intensify if you have to surrender your cell phone.

When you get to keep your phone on hand, you may feel closer to your support system, helping you stay calm and focused.

Stay In Touch With Employer

Your phone can also help you stay in touch with your employer. Many people choose outpatient treatment because they can’t take time off from work to attend inpatient rehab.

Even if you schedule your outpatient treatment sessions around your workday, it may be helpful to have your cell phone nearby in case of a work-related emergency.

If you do keep your cell phone on hand, remember to stay focused on treatment. Only look at your phone when your treatment providers say it’s OK to do so.

Using your phone at inappropriate times can threaten your recovery. It may even lead to you getting removed from the program if you continue to do it after multiple warnings.

To learn more about outpatient rehab programs, please reach out to Northeast Addictions Treatment Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer a variety of personalized, evidence-based treatment options to help you or your loved one stay sober.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

©2024 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.