SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) -Curbing the craving; millions of Americans suffer from addiction, whether it's alcohol, prescription drugs or gambling. Now, there’s an App for that.
The App alerts addicts they are headed into a weak moment, and sends therapy, in the form of distracting pictures, games, and messages.
Kelly Erickson beat his addiction to heroin after decades of use, through conventional treatment of at the Odyssey House in Salt Lake City. He says the App, which has been dubbed iHeal, would help those fighting addiction get through intense moments of craving. "You will struggle, you will feel anxious, you will think about it more. Usually they are very short periods. If you can get through it, then each time you get through, it diminishes.”
The technology was developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, and MIT. It requires the patient to wear a wrist sensor that detects changes in the brain. Sallie Calder, works with moms addicted to drugs at Valley Mental Health. She says there are measurable physiological changes that occur when the feel-good hormones in the brain drop off. “Either a decrease or increase in blood pressure, and skin temperature, because as things are going on in the brain it affects how the body is going to respond to that.”
After detecting that craving, the new App offers personalized support. Over time, it is also capable of collecting data to better predict when craving periods are likely to happen, and sending interventions accordingly.
Calder says the longer the addict goes without giving in, the stronger they become. Erickson has been clean for more than two years. "I am feeling stronger all of the time, my life is coming together, I have a job, and a home. I am starting to rebuild relationships. My life is completely changed."
He says his is living proof that it is possible to overcome addiction. “You can change it at any time. You can stop. You can get help.”