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Friday, September 22, 2017

Digital Therapeutics In The “Age of Addiction”

When it comes to addiction recovery, the more support one can get—the better. It has long been understood that patients stand the best chance of recovery with a combination of three things. Therapy, medication and support network programs. Medication may or may not be required, but therapy and a program of recovery is absolutely crucial. When all is said and done, addiction is highly complex. It involves much more than just people who have a problem abstaining from certain substances. Any addiction professional will tell you, the drugs and alcohol are but a symptom of a serious mental health disorder. One that affects tens-of-millions of Americans, and hundreds globally.

While addiction treatment is available across the country, most Americans struggle in accessing
life-saving therapies. Not everyone can afford to take months off at a time to address their illness and learn how to live life on life’s terms. This means that the burden of treating patients often falls on primary care physicians, the same people who had a hand in creating the addiction crisis in America. Many doctors are either ill-equipped to address the needs of patients living with addiction, or lack the qualifications to do so. Which means that addressing addiction in America falls on society, both individuals and businesses, to assist the afflicted.

For the millions of Americans who seemingly can’t access treatment, there are some novel approaches to getting them the help desperately needed. And, in the near future one’s smartphone may be a vital tool in the life-saving mission of recovery.

Addiction Recovery In Your Phone


At reputable addiction treatment centers, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is highly beneficial to clients. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines CBT as a therapy which concentrates on "examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” Even with a layman's understanding of the disease model of addiction, you can probably see the benefit of such practices. What if such treatments could be brought to patients during and after treatment?

Well, good news. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a smartphone application which utilizes CBT, according to CNBC. Prescribed by doctors, the app known as Reset was developed by start-up called Pear Therapeutics. To be clear: the app is not meant to be used on its own. Rather, in conjunction with traditional counseling and medication, if needed. This is big news, being the first time the FDA has approved an app for addiction treatment.

“This is an example of how innovative digital technologies can help provide patients access to additional tools during their treatment,” said Carlos Peña, Ph.D., M.S., director of the Division of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “More therapy tools means a greater potential to help improve outcomes, including abstinence, for patients with substance use disorder.”

The FDA approved Reset after reviewing a 12-week clinical trial, CNBC reports. The study, which involved nearly 400 people, showed a "statistically significant increase" in adherence to abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and stimulants. The app has not been approved yet to address opioid use disorder, but that appears to be in the works.

"This is the moment for digital therapeutics," said Corey McCann, the founder and CEO of Pear Therapeutics.

 

Addiction Treatment of The Future


As was mentioned earlier, apps like Reset are not meant to be the sole form of treatment. It should be utilized as supplemental tool by doctors and conceivably, addiction treatment centers. In the age of addiction, opioid addiction specifically, it should be all hands-on deck. If patients can benefit from mobile recovery apps, it is crucial they are employed to such ends.

At Hope by The Sea, our exceptionally trained staff and physicians are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. The practice has helped many of our clients achieve long-term recovery. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving process of addiction treatment.

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