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Drug Addiction Treatment Delivered Through "Digiceutical"

By: Carol Morriscey

Digiceuticals, therapy for drug addictions delivered through mobile devices may provide an alternative for certain drugs. Smartphones and mobile technology have become ubiquitous in our society. Our phones are used for almost everything from the social, like sharing pictures and making plans, to the mundane, like paying bills and refilling prescriptions. As a result, concerns about tech addiction have become more common. The difficulty with which we pull ourselves away from our technology has increased substantially, calling into question the threat of technology to our overall health. Ironically, tech companies and healthcare innovators are harnessing the pervasiveness of mobile technology in order to improve the health outcomes of users, despite concerns of technology addiction.

Digital Therapeutics, known as Digiceuticals in the tech industry, is a growing concept. Digiceuticals are therapies for a wide range of health problems delivered through mobile technology, such as smartphones, for a wide range of health problems such as diabetes or addiction. The first Digiceutical approved by the FDA in the US was BlueStar Rx, an app used to manage diabetes. BlueStar Rx has had promising results, aiding in the reduction of blood glucose levels to pre-diabetic levels.

Most recently, an app named “reSET” has been approved by the FDA, as the first Digiceutical approved to treat substance use disorders. reSET uses the principles of traditional therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), typically employed in substance use treatment, and delivers it right to the hand of a smartphone user. As such, they are able to receive timely advice and therapy, potentially as they are in the throes of temptation and craving. Thus far, reSET has been approved to treat cocaine addiction and stimulant addiction.

Digiceuticals such as reSET may be an excellent tool to use following drug rehab. As always, a medically supervised detox is important for a safe detox following drug addiction. Further, the human interaction and support received through an in-patient drug rehab addiction treatment program are indispensable for a successful recovery. However, adherence to sobriety following attendance at a drug rehab presents a challenge for many, once the constant support is no longer available. Currently, Searidge Drug Rehab provides a recovery app for patients to use following their addiction treatment. Our app tracks mood, craving, and emotions and shares this information with counsellors, allowing counsellors to provide the necessary support. Further, CBT treatment is provided through our recovery app. The timely and effective support provided through Digiceuticals designed for addiction treatment offers a similar solution.

Although concerns linger regarding the growing use of technology in the healthcare system—namely, concerns of privacy and efficacy — Digiceuticals remain an exciting prospect for improved health outcomes. Innovation is an indispensable tool that the healthcare system all too often forgoes in favour of the status quo. Yet, with Digiceuticals shifting the paradigm and putting more power (literally) into the hands of healthcare consumers, this particular instance of innovation may be difficult for healthcare systems to avoid.

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals