Technology is finding its way to the health sector, especially in addiction recovery, which is among the largest industries in the world.
With technology, it is possible to constantly have interactive responses between patients and caregivers, which is crucial in healthcare delivery.
Currently, substance abuse disorder is receiving the benefits of the integration of technology to the intervention approaches of various health conditions. The ability of technology to offer tailored support is highly necessary for recovering drug addicts.
Here are some of the best modern technologies being applied in various outpatient drug rehab programmes.
These are programmes delivered through a structured website where you can access information at your own will. These types of interventions are broadly classified into four categories:
● Information and education: This programme is designed by outpatient rehab centres to facilitate you in getting access to information, such as the cause and diagnostic approach of a specific addiction problem.
The aim of this intervention is to offer basic information regarding addiction and also provide links to other resources which can be of importance to you.
Although the purpose of this intervention is not to provide therapy, it sometimes contains information associated with therapy.
● Web-based therapy: This type of structured website provides detailed therapeutic feedback based on the personalised information you give. It begins with an elaborative assessment, whereby you are prompted to provide details about your behaviour.
After that, a tailored feedback about your behaviour is given together with the ways on how to modify it. In most cases, the feedback will be provided in the form of automated texts or emails.
● Human-supported therapy: In this intervention, there is human contact whereby you can chat either via email, webcam or through instant messaging.
Although this technology still upholds the parameters of self-guided treatment, human support from outpatient rehab programmes is available for further assistance. This support varies in terms of response frequency as well as the time available for consultation.
● Therapeutic education system: This web-based programme solely focuses on providing skills to recovering drug addicts with reference to the approved community support method to behaviour change.
The website will have different types of media and modules which are all on training your behavioural changes and other psychosocial skills relevant to recovering drug addicts.
In this method, you communicate with a counsellor via an online platform through instant messaging, email or video calls.
The main advantage of this method is its flexibility when it comes to geographical barriers and therefore a client can attend a therapy process at any place provided there is access to the internet.
Simulation is developed in a software to offer a dialogue-based treatment to drug addicts. The software used is able to detect specific pattern match, dialogue principles, and technical terms in the area of chemical and behavioural addiction.
Initially, such software could only operate through texting but modern versions can support voice communication, as well as recognise your emotional wants. All this is possible because of artificial intelligence.
Rule-based expert system
This promotes behavioural changes among recovering drug addicts. In outpatient rehabs, it is utilised to assess and treat selected addiction problems followed by progressive monitoring activity.
A set of complex algorithms are developed following specific rules to streamline the treatment and monitor process.
A good example of this is the ‘drinker’s check-up’, able to recognise the threshold of risk as a result of alcohol consumption and the willingness to change.
Games and virtual environments
Virtual avatars are used to treat drug addiction whereby the participants, represented by avatars, are able to carry out normal daily life activities in a virtual environment.
They do this in close follow-up by the actual addict who is able to learn from the avatar and psychologically enable him to change the addiction behaviour.
Games such as the ‘MindCotine’ are also being utilised to help drug addicts, especially smokers, from relapse.
Use of social media
The use of social media as a treatment tool for drug addicts involves a therapist creating a personal blog, Twitter, or Facebook account from where he will offer the intervention approaches to you via chat or webcam.
Technology-based intervention in addiction has just begun and therefore more should be expected as you continue to appreciate the changes in the health sector.
From the utilisation of simple mobile applications to digital sensors and machine learning, the options will become prevalent with time. The ultimate goal for all these will be to enhance the interaction between patients and health workers with the aim of facilitating the recovery process.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the world’s first blog psychologist and founder of Psychreg. As an international mental health advocate, he speaks at various conferences around the world and believes that everyone experiencing a mental health problem deserves both support and respect.