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Addiction Treatment Through Apps: A Social Media Based Intervention

The goal of digital technology is to enhance the alignment between patient and clinician in order to streamline the transition from an active addiction lifestyle to a recovery lifestyle.

Digital intervention as it relates to addiction has arrived and is expected to expand further. Access via smartphones, digital sensors and artificial intelligence is expected to become even more sophisticated as time unfolds. FDA approved “reset” is but one long term relapse prevention sample of apps coming your way soon. As of now, smartphones are the frontrunners in a digital addiction intervention.

Here is what is available:

  • Web-based self-help interventions:
    • Information & education based intervention
  • Self-guided web based therapeutic interventions
    • Human supported therapeutic web based intervention
    • Therapeutic Education System
  • Internet mediated online therapy
  • Robotic simulation of therapist
  • Rule-based expert system
  • Games and virtual 3D systems
  • Therapeutic use of Social Media
    • Building primary care providers
    • Telepsychiatry

Web-based information and education based intervention

These apps enable people to obtain information about specific addictions related problems including diagnostic criteria, causes and treatments. These interventions provide a convenient and an understandable informational source surrounding addiction and related disorders. These interventions do not provide therapy.

Web-based self-guided web based therapeutic interventions

These apps not only provide specific information. They also provide therapeutic feedback in addition to the information provided. For example, an assessment regarding a particular behavior is conducted and then ways are given on how to modify the behavior.

Web-based human-supported therapeutic intervention

This intervention aims at changing behavior using a human contact for providing support or feedback. Human contact may be in the form of health professionals or peer supporters. Human support usually comes in the form of an e-mail, instant message or a webcam. Human contact may last from a two minutes to several hours. Contact times vary from one to several times daily. Chat or webcam responses usually occur immediately while emails are usually delayed.

Web-based therapeutic education system

This is a psychosocial skills training app for people with substance use disorders. Interactive modules cover areas such as cognitive behavioral skills, risk behavior modification, and managing negative thoughts. Other apps teach ways to improve psychosocial functions, family relations, social relations, and negative moods. This system builds individualized treatment plans, evaluates reading comprehension, and changes the pace and level accordingly.

Internet mediated online therapy

This app enables an individual or a group of people to interact with a therapist online. It was unnecessarily controversial during its launch and subsequently was known to be favorable because people can conveniently contact a counselor at any time and from any distance. Clients can reach their therapist from home or any location of their choice.

Robotic simulation of therapist

These apps provide a simulated dialog-based therapy with patients. The main communication is through text or voice communication. Artificial intelligence has the capacity to discern emotional needs of people and generating a perception of empathy.

Rule-based expert system

These apps are designed to assess, treat and monitor progress. This software has shown favorable results regarding promoting behavioral changes.

Games and virtual 3D systems

The use of virtual “avatars” for managing problems with substance use is on the rise. The participating person is depicted by a virtual avatar that interacts in the virtual world complete with discussion forums, blogs, news posts, shopping, and information exchange.

Therapeutic use of Social Media

Another approach to the management of substance abuse implements social media including blogs, twitter and support groups via chat, audio, or webcam.

  1. Traditional substance abuse primary care providers are in demand and current technology permits an alternative approach via tele-mentoring therapists to help manage all the addictive disorder.
  2. Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatry can be in real-time live interaction or asynchronous approach. This methods makes more potential connections between clinicians and people than traditional venues.

If you or a loved one wants to learn more about our substance abuse programs, please reach out to us today. Our admissions team is available 24/7 at (877)-RECOVERY to answer your questions.​

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