Participatory design of technologies to support recovery from substance use disorders

Zachary Schmitt, Lana Yarosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Substance use disorders, such as alcoholism and drug addiction, are a widespread and hazardous public health issue. Technology designed for the needs and values of people in recovery may be able to supplement traditional treatment options, enhance long-term abstinence maintenance, and create new opportunities for social support. We conducted a series of participatory design workshops with women in recovery from substance use disorders to identify design opportunities for supportive technologies that align with the specific values, practices and traditions of the recovery community. Through a data-driven inductive qualitative analysis, we identify five major themes that may be addressed with technology: 1) supporting twelve-step traditions and practices, 2) management of restlessness and moments of crisis, 3) agency and control over privacy and personal safety, 4) tracking progress and maintaining motivation, and 5) constructing a new normal. We connect these themes to specific implications for design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number156
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Association for Computing Machinery ACM


  • 12-steps
  • Participatory design
  • Peer health support
  • Substance use disorders
  • Technology for mental health


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