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Can Technology Help With Substance Abuse?

In the US, opioid overdose deaths are at a rate higher than ever. The drug, primarily used for pain relief, is euphoric yet addictive and takes about 50,000 people annually in the country — roughly 4% of Americans have an opioid disorder, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.

The White House describes it as an epidemic, investing $450 million last year to tackle the crisis: “in memory of those we have lost and to protect the lives we can still save.”

Across all drugs including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and opioids, about 21 million Americans have at least one addiction.

Optimistically, recovery is possible through a combination of counselling and medication, yet, in the US, only 10% of addicts receive treatment, and it is not a quick and easy process.

Generally, substance abuse counselling uses cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), commonly used in mental health recovery as well. In brief, CBT aims to discover what triggers cravings and relapses, and rewire the brain to resist temptation.

The approach takes trust, a deep sense of self-awareness, and is lengthy — but, with the help of technology, this can be tackled.

Neurotech firm MetaBrain Labs believes it has the answer by digitally transforming CBT in the form of wearables and AI.

“Having personally experienced the pain of a family member with addictive behaviour, and on the flip side helping them recover, I know the power of healing from within,” claims founder and CEO, MetaBrain Labs, Alexandrea Day.


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