Did you know: there are over 30 million drug addicts in the U.S. For many, this can be overcome through one to one medical help and therapy. One addiction that exists in our modern world is the dependence on social media and it’s quick gratification and the escapism it provides. Ironically, the very technology that hooks some can be harnessed to help others. Game and chat software can be designed to help people struggling with addiction. Over 90% of teenagers are online every day – and most of them are on social media. It, therefore, makes sense to use everyday technology to help people. It’s not the only way, of course. Let’s go through some of the innovations that currently exist globally.
At the most basic level, websites can exist to provide education on the whole issue of addiction – from self-diagnosis and the long-term dangers to keys for overcoming. Sites like Sober Grid can help you find local support. As with CBT (discussed later), websites largely offer a self-guided route. You learn you self-diagnose, you implement. Some sites then provide automated email responses. Others take things to the next level with human support via instant messaging, online chat, webcam, and email.
This avenue surprised people at how effective it can actually be. The advantage here is that you can be helped by someone who lives hundreds of miles away, and there is no travel requirement on your part. You can also consider great options for addiction therapies as well.
It is possible to harness yourself to specific blog pages online and on Twitter and Facebook. You can then go deeper with webcam conversations and online chats with a specialist where this has been set up.
Computer gaming software has already been adapted to create virtual realities for addicts. They can create an avatar of themself in a parallel virtual world. They are then responsible for training the avatar to overcome the temptations of drugs and alcohol. It’s like standing back from yourself in a state of mindfulness as if you were watching a film – and observing your behavior and deciding how to change it. Some smokers have been helped by a game called Mind Cotine.
People who fear that AI will take over the world will be relieved to know that it can be harnessed to help people who have addictions! With some programs, people can dialogue with a robot and in response will receive communication by text or voice simulation. This is obviously not as good as talking to a human, but modern programming can be very effective.
Just as there are apps to help you diet, there are now apps to help you come off drugs. Alcoholics Anonymous has created The Twelve Steps Companion app. These days, you have ways to record your alcohol intake and see how you’re doing overtime, and to receive positive messages to encourage you along the way. Some apps also include essential links to practitioners who can help you individually.
The Alcoholics Anonymous ‘Big Book’ can be found on the Itunes store.
Self-support is a big element in treating addiction using technology. The Squirrel Recovery app helps you set up a digital support group. It’s like a Weight Watchers’ group – you can hold yourself accountable for your current progress and also help and encourage others. The sense of being on a group journey can really help the feeling that you’re on your own in this.
In South Korea, scientists used genetic mutations to stop rats from craving alcohol. The desire is to then do this with humans, although this sounds like an extreme option.
Cognitive Based Therapy
It is now possible to undergo this on your computer at home, at your own speed. You identify your trigger thoughts using various modules and create alternative ways of thinking in those situations. When you change your thoughts your behavior will follow. It’s a highly effective way of rewiring your brain to overcome addictive impulses.
Sometimes only one to one personal help will do, or appointments with outpatient rehab. On many occasions, people benefit from going on full-time drug rehabilitation courses. When they go there for recovery, the goal is to remove the addict from their familiar environment and attachments. The temptations are removed and the opportunity for relearning begins.
No doubt there will be more tools and approaches developed in time, and many will spring from technological advances in other areas. The more angles you can come from and the more platforms available, the greater the armory to overcome addiction. Whilst addiction will always exist in one form or another, it is encouraging to see people using every possible avenue to help save precious lives.