Substance use disorders (SUD) start with “I’ll give it a try” and “why not just once”—but they turn into greedy, unshakeable, demanding monsters. Once you’re hooked—whether it be on alcohol, opioids, or another drug—your entire life changes before you. You feel like you can’t live without the substance: you have to do everything in your power to get it, you put yourself in danger to obtain it, and every aspect of your life is tainted by it. I’m sure you can imagine how difficult this means recovery can be. How can you shake a disease so unrelenting, so incredibly persuasive?
While certain treatment methods like counseling and medication have proven to successfully treat SUD, we’re still experimenting with other possibilities. In fact, the newest of these interventions was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): a mobile medical application called Reset, which is the first of its kind, created specifically to help treat SUD. It is important to note, however, that this is prescription-only treatment and also not meant to treat those who are solely dependent on opioids.
This app “delivers cognitive behavioral therapy to patients to teach the user skills that aid in the treatment of SUD and are intended to increase abstinence from substance abuse and increase retention in outpatient therapy programs,” according to the FDA. Additionally, the system is meant to be used with a contingency management system, which uses a series of incentives to reward patients who adhere to treatment methods.
The approval of this app stems from the FDA’s data analysis of a 12-week clinical trial, which followed approximately 400 patients who received standard treatment (such as therapy) or standard treatment along with a desktop-based rendition of Reset. They found that there was a statistically significant increase in successful abstinence for patients with alcohol, cocaine, stimulant, and marijuana-related SUD who used the medical mobile app, as opposed to the ones who didn’t use Reset. They did not, however, observe that the Reset app helped patients who abuse opioids.
While the patients displayed suicidal behavior, suicidal ideation, depression, mania, and endured gastrointestinal events as well as cardiovascular disease, none of these appear to be directly associate with the app use. They are instead typical effects of SUD.
Stories like these certainly restore my love for technology and hopes for mankind. Fingers crossed for this technological advancement as its creators begin to market it to the world, and here’s to hoping a brighter, healthier future becomes of it.
(2017, September 14). FDA permits marketing of mobile medical application for substance use disorder, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm576087.htm