Technology is very much a fixture in our everyday lives. We rely on gadgets for many things, but can technology help people curb their drug problem? In order to ensure that addicts are taking the medication that prevents them from getting high and sick from their drug of choice, researchers at the University of Cincinnati are looking into developing a software program used on an iPad that would recognize if the person is following the medical protocol set forth by the physician.
Prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Percocet, as well as street drugs like heroin, are very difficult for many addicts to quit. This is mainly due to the fact that these drugs carry with them very painful and long lasting withdrawal symptoms. When a person does not have the drug that they have become dependent on, they quickly start feeling ill. Vomiting, nausea, insomnia, body aches and anxiety are just some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with prescription painkillers and heroin.
In order to help an addict through this difficult time and give them a better chance of maintaining sobriety, doctors often prescribe drugs like buprenorphine or methadone. These drugs are synthetic opioids that can initially help avoid the withdrawal symptoms and reduce the chances of abusing the drugs. Unfortunately, some addicts do not take their medication or abuse it and continue to abuse heroin or painkillers.
For the most part, doctors have no way of knowing if their patient is being honest with them. They can drug test on each visit, but opiates do not stay in the system very long so that the test may not convey an accurate picture on what the patient is consuming. In order to combat this problem, researchers are pairing up with a software company that developed a method to ensure proper compliance is occurring by patients who are being prescribed Suboxone. Patients are given an iPad and every morning when they are taking their medicine they have to do so in front of the iPad, this data is then sent to the physician’s office where they can keep track of the person’s doses.
While this may seem like an extreme measure to some, systems like this are potentially saving many lives. Suboxone is often sold on the street after someone acquires a prescription for the drug and doctors need to make sure their patients are following the medical plan laid out for them.
While medications like buprenorphine may have their place in the addiction treatment field, we typically help people find rehabilitation programs that won’t keep them on synthetic opioids for an extended period of time.