June 13, 2017
There are about 23 million Americans who have substance use disorder involving drugs or alcohol. But fewer than 20 percent of them receive treatment. In the tech-run world, there are about 165,000 smartphone apps on healthcare, with an emphasis on healthcare. Triggr is one such app, but is different and more ambitious.
Trigger uses data from smartphones to not just help people come out of cravings, but also predicts when a person is going to relapse and go back into using substance. Data is collected from screen engagement, sleep timings, texting patterns, words they use like ‘craving’, phone logs and location. This is combined with the patient’s details like drug preference, history, et cetera and fed into the algorithm. The app then helps in predicting if the person is going to relapse.
Tasha Hedstrom was struggling with opioid addiction for 15 years until she found help through Triggr. She never found the peer support programs like Narcotics Anonymous helpful. “I don’t like the atmosphere. I feel like people are talking about using and glorifying it. I don’t like telling my story a million different times”, she said.
When she began using Triggr, she found changes. Triggr not only keeps you updated on your recovery path, but also guides you in difficult situations. One day, Tasha found herself in an unexpected situation. A man followed her to her car park and offered her drugs. She immediately texted Triggr for help, “It is not just about addiction. It’s like we’re on a friend basis. You need to have backup supports”, she said.
Triggr has different access systems. They can track the number of days you’ve been clean. They have recovery coaches, who chat with patients periodically throughout the day by text and app message. If Tasha hasn’t contacted Triggr all day long, then the team themselves contact her and help her come out of unexpected challenges like the one she faced at the car park.
Study shows that nearly 75 percent of the people who look for help in groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcohol Anonymous relapse within their first year. Though a wide range of facilities offer help are available, they don’t seem to work on many patients. New technologies are offering another helping hand for people with a strong hope that they don’t relapse.