Over the last decade of addiction treatment and research, providers have become more and more open to the idea of using mobile apps to reinforce post-release recovery. People coming out of recovery face a lot of challenges reintegrating into society, not least of which is staying sober. App makers have focused on tracking and providing simple motivational resources, but newer apps are aiming to provide more advanced therapy options, better tracking recognition software, and specialized incentives for aftercare compliance.
We scoured the web for some of the top apps being used by treatment centers today. As technology improves, we’ll hopefully see this market expand and become more accessible to the average person seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Mobile Apps That Improve Progress of Recovery
Facing addiction can often seem like an inner battle that is waged solo. During a stay in rehab, recovering addicts will come to realize that addiction is best treated with love and support from a community that understands and cares for the afflicted person. WeConnect aims to carry that supportive network that exists in residential treatment over into the post-release world.
Started in 2015, the company has been steadily growing their user base of clients to help fight addiction with technology. The app includes notifications that encourage communication with support groups, daily activities and tracking software, and even geofencing tracking to ensure that someone attended a particular meeting. It also includes an SOS button that a user can press to send a message to emergency contacts to get in touch if they need immediate support.
The app also includes a built-in rewards element that enables users to get coupons and discounts as they complete goals. By partnering with as many treatment centers as possible, WeConnect also aims to provide real-time data on recidivism and success rates for the industry.
Soberlink claims to provide one of the safest, most effective solutions for remote alcohol monitoring following release from rehab. The company received FDA clearance in 2016 for medical usage and since then has been integrated by a number of treatment centers. Some of the bigger names include Hazelden Betty Ford and Caron Treatment.
The device incorporates a cellular breathalyzer that also includes a facial recognition camera that sends real-time BAC results to the person’s treatment center or employer. It also includes tamper detection sensors so that the device can’t be deceived. With cloud-based software, the application automatically generates reports charting the person’s progress.
Soberlink helps take the uncertainty out of alcohol relapse in a simple, intuitive way. With reminders sent straight to your phone, the hassle of scheduling and going to take a breath test are eliminated. The facial recognition also makes it near impossible to fake the veracity of the test.
Reset-O is the creation of Pear Therapeutics, who received FDA approval in 2017 to market its app. The app targets those recovering from opioid addiction and includes cognitive behavioral therapy activities recommended by clinicians for treating opioid dependency. The product was cleared by the FDA as a viable 12-week interval prescription therapeutic for substance abuse disorder.
Reset was tested in a clinical trial with 400 patients and produced an abstinence rate of 40% compared to 17.6% for the control group. As an industry, there’s not a lot of data on the efficacy of these products, but Pear Therapeutics results are a promising start. Chelsea Brigham, clinical outreach director at Simple Recovery in California, says: “As an industry, there really isn’t a lot of data on success rates. There’s a lot of negative news, and relapse rates are high. As a clinically driven treatment provider, we want to have statistics we can use to help improve what we do based on data. For clients who relapse while using the app, we want to look at the length of the relapse. If we know that a relapse is happening, this can potentially help us shorten the length of the relapse.”
The Reset app incorporates financial incentives for users as they work their way through daily goals and activities. Similar to Soberlink, it also automatically generates progress reports for treatment centers and employers. However, all drug testing still needs to occur at a specific facility.
A-CHESS is another application that could be used to increase abstinence in recovering addicts. This app has undergone numerous clinical trials, including one that showed a significant decrease in “risky drinking days” for users following release from treatment. Another randomized clinical trial demonstrated that using a multi-featured smartphone app such as A-CHESS had a positive effect on patient’s continuing care.
A-CHESS uses a GPS tracker that warns users if they are near or within a bar for example and sends out a message to the person’s support group. The app also includes daily check-ins and motivational reminders. The next aspect they want to cover is implementing monitoring software that uses biosensors to detect changes in heartbeat, body temperature, and eventually intravenously detect opioid usage.
Sober Grid is an app that gives users daily reminders to check in and stay sober. They record if they’re sober, report on their current mood, and then write a daily pledge to stick with. The app largely relies on the honesty of users, but if a user reports that they have relapsed, that person’s support network is alerted. This app is one of the more socially integrated applications available. It also includes the “burning desire” function which alerts the support network that someone is strongly considering using again. One of the best parts about this app is that lets other users be of service to others trying to recover.
Sober Tool is an application that has you answer a series of prompts. After you open the app, you’re greeted with a list of questions prompting you to think about and indicate, how you’re feeling at the moment. For example, a question could ask if you’re thinking about relapsing. Clicking on that takes you to follow-up questions like, “Do you feel like using right now?” or “Do you feel worthless?” The app then sends you motivational messages like “Be gentle with yourself” or “Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.”
At Landmark Recovery, we incorporate a variety of tools that assist recovering addicts during treatment and post-release. Neurofeedback, for example, incorporates cutting-edge neuro-technology and cognitive behavioral therapy models that significantly help users recover from drug and alcohol abuse.