Reimagining the Rehab Experience

Creating higher levels of engagement within treatment centers through Gamification principles . Resulting in a more supportive, fun, engaging and rewarding experience.
What could this mean for treatment outcomes?

Getting to Rehab can be a daunting process. It feels like you’ve lost the ability to solve your own problems — when in reality you’re finally grabbing the bull by horns and having a little one-on-one with it. The first week of rehab tends to be detoxifying, literally. Life in “detox” is like being forced into a vacuum. Your phone, your wallet, and your freedoms are stripped from you. It feels like a violation at first, then you realize how truly freeing it is. For some, it can be hell. For me personally, it was the best week of my adult life. For the first time, I had nothing to worry about. No texts to reply to, no emails, very little outside communication. It was incredibly liberating and I finally got to sit with myself and focus on me, for once.

After that week or two of bliss, your phone is returned to you and the distractions of life start all over again. You stop paying attention at group, your mind is preoccupied, you get sucked into the past and the so-called “present” which is a vortex of Facebook, Instagram and whatever else you fancy. These are the modern day habits of our limited attention span society. Even normal people at work and school do it. They get bored at the office or class and their mind wanders off to la-la-land. I’m sure some of our readers at this very moment fall into that category — but please, by all means keep reading on.

It was around that time that I realized that there’s something missing in the rehab experience. Something so engaging that I can keep coming back to, but that is tied into my program. I had that “wouldn’t it be great if” moment. The following weeks of my treatment consisted of countless sketches of a concept that started to take shape in the back of my Therapy Session Worksheets (major apologies to my therapists for doodling all over their takeaway sheets).

Not being able to use my laptop or phone was a blessing. It forced me to sketch, a lot. I was fully connected — without technology. Taking to pen and paper as I downloaded endless streams of ideas from my mind.

This was the birth of inRecovery. Specifically Roadmap to Recovery — an app that was created to give rehab patients a clear view of their short-term and long-term goals and a motivation engine to reach them.

All powered by simple tools we use in our every day lives. Tools that have been time tested and proven to motivate, excite, engage and connect people. The principles of Gamification.

Checking-in to activities, rating them, earning points and getting badges. All that good stuff finally making its way into the rehab experience. The feedback provided to me by therapists and staff helped me gain a deeper insight into their jobs. Within a few weeks, the design prototype was ready and volunteers who tried it out loved it. It had real appeal because it it solved some of the core issues that both staff and patients experience at treatment centers.

Roadmap to Recovery app from inRecovery.org

Roadmap to Recovery is a very simple app that is tied to a very complex and powerful platform called inRecovery. A platform powered by an intelligence engine and blockchain for addiction treatment, all elegantly tied together by easy to use Apps.

The core goal of Roadmap to Recovery is to help treatment centers engage the patient by creating a fun environment where responsibility and discipline are rewarded. This might sound impossible as discipline and fun are hardly ever used in the same sentence. However, that’s where gamification comes in and thrives.

By rewarding the patients with something as simple as Points on a dashboard and public Badges that show their positive actions. Suddenly, people have the motivation to show up on time, to do their assignments, to do their house chores, and so on. Humans are naturally wired to not want to lose when put into groups. Of course there are some addicts that seem impossible — but if we can convert some of those “lost causes”, then it’s all worth while.

The vast majority of patients enjoy and benefit from this type of platform. It lets them see their daily progress, displays their days sober, and gives them a clear understanding of what they’re doing and where they’re going — it gives them a personal roadmap. At it’s core, this helps patients rebuild their confidence. It helps reprogram the addict mind from instant gratification mindsets to one of earning recognition for doing what is right.

A patient’s Personal Roadmap on the app

They are also empower by having the ability to give real time (anonymous) feedback about every activity and session. This feedback is invaluable to rehab owners and therapists as they can use it to further tailor and improve their programs.

After group therapy, patients head back to their living quarters for the evening. While there are a few typical activities such as dinner, 12-step meetings, and outings; patients are pretty much on their own for a long stretch of time. This is when boredom tends to kick in. Patients might get sucked into Facebook on their phones or into an argument with a friend or family member. This time period leaves patients extremely vulnerable and prone to relapse.

Journaling Tasks to keep patients engaged after groups. Provides therapists with insight on a patient’s state of mind.

With Roadmap to Recovery, patients stay engaged after hours. In order to reach their daily goals, they must still complete a few more activities while at home. This can include house chores, watching TED-talks, journaling, volunteering, and so on. We even let them post to an internal “Instagram”-type of section which builds team spirit and moral while forcing individuals out of isolation. Most importantly, the platform gives patients something to do and focus on while at home — away from social media and texting.

Transportation Management tools update designated drivers and provide an Uber-like interface.

I come from an entrepreneurial background, having grown a few successful companies and been blessed with a few great exits. My mind is naturally wired to find opportunities where others see problems. As issues arose during my time in rehab, I observed, listened and thought of ways to solve some of the problems while making life easier for patients and staff.

The rehab tool kit inside of Roadmap to Recovery is very exciting to me. Covering many of the common pain points of treatment centers. Pain points such as transportation management, simple things like request management, and more serious tools like relapse prevention and emergency handling — which could potentially save lives. This tool kit becomes invaluable to staff and rehab owners as it helps them standardize procedures and become more efficient with existing staff.

I’ve been faced with concerns of technology addiction and such habit forming scenarios. Frankly, this cannot be avoided in a world where we live and breathe our phones. People do have access and use their phones during rehab. What we can affect however, are the habits of what they do with their phones. Giving them better things to do so they don’t waste their time and energy on potentially toxic things like social media or texting.

By focusing on accomplishing small daily goals and showing people results, we encourage them and build their confidence. Similar to when we start seeing results from going to the gym — it creates a new wave of motivation and drive. We’re making patients realize that by doing the right thing they’re truly progressing towards their long-term goals. Helping them enjoy rehab, sobriety and actually starting to like this new person they’re becoming.


inRecovery is more than an addiction recovery platform. It is a vision for the future of addiction treatment.
— David E Sarabia, Founder inRecovery.org