Shocking Suggestion: To Support Sobriety, Try Using Your Phone as a…Phone
If you are of a certain age, you no doubt remember having a landline phone. You would not have called it a “landline phone,” of course. You would have just called it a phone.
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Depending on the length of the cord, your phone limited your movement. You couldn’t go any further than the cord would stretch—which might have meant you had very little privacy. And heaven knows you could not, for example, stick that sucker in your pocket and head out into the world confident folks could reach you.
Heck, if you were on the phone, other folks actually couldn’t reach you. Instead, they heard the less-than-dulcet tones of the busy signal.
Eventually, call waiting came along. And answering machines (replaced none too soon by voice mail). And then first generation car phones. And mobile phones that were just, well, phones. At least, you had your freedom from the landline, right? (This is about the time you might have started saying “landline.”)
And then, all of the sudden, our phones became “smart.” As they got smarter and smarter, it became possible to use them for a seemingly endless number of purposes. And the more features and abilities these smartphones acquired, the less folks seemed to use them for their original purpose.
You know, as a phone.
Now, we know what some of you are thinking: You don’t want to make calls. You don’t want to answer calls. If you have to have human interaction via your smartphone, you would like it to be via text.
We understand. But hear us out: A short phone call can be good for your mental health, which in turn supports your sobriety. No, really.
Introducing the Eight-Minute Phone Call
In a New York Times piece titled “The Secret Power of the 8-Minute Phone Call,” Jancee Dunn makes the case that in our over-scheduled lives a short but engaged conversation has a bunch of benefits. She suggests scheduling an eight-minute call with a friend—long enough to really talk, but short enough that it can be squeezed into the tightest of schedules.
What sort of benefits are we talking about from this short burst of conversation? Here’s what Dunn reports:
A study of 240 adults in 2021 found that when participants received brief phone calls a few times a week, their levels of depression, loneliness and anxiety were “rapidly reduced” compared with people who didn’t receive a call. As Dr. [Bob] Waldinger writes in his book [The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness], “a few adjustments to our most treasured relationships can have real effects on how we feel, and on how we feel about our lives — a gold mine of vitality that we are not paying attention to.”
Eight Minutes? Really?
You might be skeptical about how much can be accomplished in eight minutes. But Dunn had quite a wide-ranging conversation with a friend in that amount of time:
In short order, we talked about our mothers’ health, made birthday plans, gossiped about a friend who abruptly quit his job and moved to a tiny Mexican town, traded book recommendations and explored the possibility of an afterlife (verdict: we’re not sure). Intently focused, we knocked out subject after subject, before Tina announced that our eight minutes were up — and besides, she had arrived at the dry cleaner’s.
Truthfully, Dunn had us at “traded book recommendations and explored the possibility of an afterlife.” How much more substantial could a conversation be?
Dunn doesn’t know about the afterlife, but she does know how she felt after the phone call:
I hung up, smiling and humming a little tune. I had missed her, and didn’t realize it until I heard her voice. I was also surprised by how much ground we covered without the call feeling rushed. Our connection was brief, but it was real.
So, again, here’s the long and the short (mostly short): This kind of quick call can provide a real boost to your mental health—and that, in turn, supports your sobriety. We would be hard pressed to think of a better use of eight minutes for a person in recovery from a substance use disorder.
If You Need Help, Make a Quick Call to Bel Aire Recovery Center
Now that we have reminded you that your phone can, in fact, be used to make phone calls, we want to remind you that you can reach us by phone if you need help with a substance use disorder. At Bel Aire Recovery Center we offer personalized treatment—including treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders.
When you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, it can seem like there is no one who can help. But at our Kansas facility, helping you reclaim your sobriety is our whole thing. All you have to do to get started is get in touch with us. That phone in your pocket (or upon which you are reading this blog) can help you do just that.