Ohio Woman Invents App to Fight Heroin Addiction
The city of Marion, Ohio, just like a lot of cities all over America, has been torn apart by the devastation and demoralization caused by the surging opiate outbreak. With overdose death rates climbing to catastrophic rates all over the country, more and more people are stepping in and looking for answers. Now, one Marion, Ohio native is using smartphone apps to try and provide a source of support and solution for local heroin addicts.
Brandi Spaulding’s hometown has been overshadowed by a dark cloud of suffering and despair from the heroin addiction outbreak. Spaulding has watched heroin addiction claim the lives of young people she knew, and reap havoc on the community she grew up in.
Now Spaulding, who will receive a doctoral degree in addiction psychology next month, has decided it is time to take a stand and make an effort to reverse the deadly trend by providing 24/7 mobile counseling and social support to recovering heroin addicts through a smartphone app.
With the help of a team of computer science students at The Ohio State University, Spaulding worked to produce the heroin addiction recovery application called Squirrel Recovery for Android smart phones, named after the idea of feeling “squirrely” in early sobriety. The app is designed to help those in recovery from heroin addiction combat their cravings.
When the pleasure-seeking part of an addict’s brain is activated and skews the consequences of actions, the app is there to provide on-going support and connection to a clean and sober community.
The app is set up so those suffering from heroin addiction can load a list of 10 names of family, friends, counselors and other trusted supporters to their recovery circle screen. When the addict finds themselves tempted by cravings this group can receive instant texts, or simply when words of encouragement are needed.
The app also prompts the user throughout the day to rate themselves based on:
- Monitoring of mood
- Urges to use
- Stress levels
This information can also be instantly shared with their support group. Squirrel Recovery is also designed with a one touch panic button in case of emergencies that will immediately contact all 10 of their supporters. At this point, all other features are bypassed and the distress text is sent out to the circle of trusted friends and family.
Other features of the app include:
- Tracking accumulated days of sobriety
- Coins collected as awards for sobriety milestones
- Motivational stories and testimonials from recovered addicts
Spaulding believes this technology could be utilized in other situations for a reliable support system, such as:
- Chronic pain
Spaulding has no intentions of stopping there. She stated:
“I’d like to add a GPS feature that lets you know a meeting is close and allows app users to identify their own trigger spots so that a menu pops up and asks ‘How are you doing?,'”
The app should soon be available for Apple smart-devices soon as well.
Working for Change
Brandi Spaulding currently works in concert with addiction medicine experts as an intern at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. During a recent interview with local news she stated why she thinks this kind of app is so important,
“Addicts are at the highest risk of relapse within their first 90 days of recovery. They feel alone and aren’t always willing to ask for help or make a phone call. So, we created an app that allows for ongoing, streamlined communication and resources at the touch of a button,”
“It’s like they have a counselor in their pocket at all times,”
According to a recent report released by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin is currently fueling the highest overdose death rates in a decade, and heroin addiction is growing faster than any other illegal drug. Spaulding said addiction counselors have welcomed the use of the app, and she is hoping the technology will continue to advance and inspire more change in the recovering community.
Ohio recently ranked 8th out of all 50 states in the country concerning the highest overdose death rates, and with so many lives being wrecked by the pestilence of heroin addiction every innovation and invention for helping fight to save lives is more than welcome. Hopefully staying connected will help keep some recovering addicts stay sober.
Technology is helping us to try and invent new ways for people struggling with addiction to keep on the right path. Sometimes strong support starts with the right foundation, and the right treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588