A Smart Phone App is Newest Franklin County Drug Recovery Tool

Local officials hope that technology can lessen the human impact of the opioid epidemic.

By mid-October, the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County will start a pilot program in which 200 drug users can get help through a smartphone app, especially when treatment and counseling agencies are closed. The hope is to give those in recovery another tool to prevent relapsing into drug use.

“It is a support in addition to treatment,” said Kythryn Carr Hurd, ADAMH vice president of clinical services. “Today’s population is all about technology, and we really want to give them an option that is different.”

The app, which can be accessed only by those approved for the program, links those in recovery with almost-instant access to certified recovery coaches and provides podcasts, photos and other educational tools to aid in recovery.

Perhaps most important, it gives addicts access to help when and where they want it — any time of any day and in so-called “recovery deserts” where treatment or counseling isn’t readily available.

Local officials hope that technology can lessen the human impact of the opioid epidemic.

By mid-October, the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County will start a pilot program in which 200 drug users can get help through a smartphone app, especially when treatment and counseling agencies are closed. The hope is to give those in recovery another tool to prevent relapsing into drug use.

“It is a support in addition to treatment,” said Kythryn Carr Hurd, ADAMH vice president of clinical services. “Today’s population is all about technology, and we really want to give them an option that is different.”

The app, which can be accessed only by those approved for the program, links those in recovery with almost-instant access to certified recovery coaches and provides podcasts, photos and other educational tools to aid in recovery.

Perhaps most important, it gives addicts access to help when and where they want it — any time of any day and in so-called “recovery deserts” where treatment or counseling isn’t readily available.

“You can need help at 3 in the morning,” said Amy O’Grady, senior policy manager for the recently formed Columbus and Franklin County opioid task force. “When the dust settles and they go back to their day-to-day living, they need help at all hours.”

The app also includes a GPS component that helps a person avoid going to areas, such as a drug dealer’s street, that can trigger a relapse. If the app detects the user’s phone is in one of those trigger areas, it sends a series of messages asking if that person is safe. Sometimes, certified counselors monitoring the app call the person to help.

“The use of technology is another attempt to meet people where they’re at,” O’Grady said. “This is another way to reach people.”

It’s seen as a supplement, not a replacement, for treatment, and given in conjunction with Vivitrol or suboxone, drugs aimed at preventing relapses after detox.

The app already is used in Cuyahoga and Lake counties.

The pilot program, funded with $108,000 provided by the Columbus Foundation, will allow 200 people in recovery to use the app. Half will come from Franklin County specialty courts, such as drug court. Service providers who work regularly with ADAMH will refer the other half.

“Industries are always changing, and behavioral health is no different,” Carr Hurd said.

The app includes a feature that, with the tap of the screen, allows a recovering addict to talk or text with a counselor or someone trained in recovery assistance.

“It’s a person who has been where they are,” Carr Hurd said. “They will talk to you. You don’t have to leave your home.”

The app is another step taken as part of the Franklin County-Columbus task force created to deal with the crisis created by heroin and its synthetic cousins.

In March, Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady and Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther united those governments’ fight against opioids under ADAMH. Since then, ADAMH plans to open a 50-bed stabilization center on the South Side after first responders complained there weren’t enough treatment beds for addicts.

Starting Monday, under another program, inmates released from the Franklin County jails can choose to get a shot of Vivitrol to help prevent relapses after detox.

The task force’s action plan concluded that opioid addiction is a disease, not a choice, and should be treated as such.

In 2016, unintentional drug overdoses killed 4,149 Ohioans. That was a 36 percent jump from 2015. This year, the coroner has said Franklin County is on pace for a 66 percent increase in its 353 overdose deaths in 2016.a

http://www.dispatch.com/news/20171002/smart-phone-app-is-newest-franklin-county-drug-recovery-tool

Recent Posts

See All
Featured Posts