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Addiction Treatment Options, Drug Addiction, Facts About Addiction, Substance Abuse  |  June 09, 2016

One of the great challenges in addiction rehab care is getting help to addicts when they need it most – at that crisis point when the urge to use begins to overwhelm self-control.

We know from our extensive work in the field, and from the research of others, that stresses as simple as sleep deprivation can trigger a relapse.

As a result, the rehabilitation specialists at Aware Recovery Care are working to find ways to use technology to help caregivers detect stressors and anticipate relapses in time to bring abstinence preserving,  life-saving support to clients in our care.

One of the most interesting areas for us currently involves research into the use of wearables to track client vital functions such as sleep, activity levels, heart rate and more.   We know from our work so far, and from the work of others, that a body under stress and on the verge of a relapse changes physiologically in ways that are likely recordable and predictable.  If we are able to learn exactly the signals that most accurately predict a relapse – and can develop technology that can transmit that data to a caregiver, we will have gained the ability to have our team of recovery specialists intervene with our clients before a crisis turns into a dangerous relapse.

Initially, we are focusing our attention at Aware Recovery Care on using Fitbits to gather what useful data those devices provide from a sample of our current clients.  Over time, we expect to collaborate with other researchers in the field to test more advanced wearables – wearables that give us the ability to track a far greater number of physiological signals and transmit those signals over great distances.  Once we have a large enough sample of data, we should be able to develop models of physiologic change that are predictive of imminent relapses for a number of substances abuse categories (alcohol, cocaine, opioids, etc.). 

Will this new technology be foolproof?

Probably not… There will likely always be clients willing to remove the wearables as a way of avoiding detection. 

But for those clients committed to recovery – we believe these new tools will help preserve abstinence and in some cases save lives.

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