NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Opioid overdoses kill more than 130 people every day in the U.S., and as health care providers and scientists search for solutions to save lives, a Boston tech company may have found one way.
When Joy Thompson shares how long she’s been in recovery and off the painkillers that derailed her life, she can’t help but smile.
“Four years … I feel amazing. Everything is just so good,” she said.
She credits much of her recent success to an app on her phone that holds her accountable with random breathalyzer and drug tests.
The app keeps track of her history, showing the date and what type of test she took.
Results are immediate. The testing is monitored by video and Thompson is rewarded with up to $200 per month for working, attending meetings and not using.
“The reward of pulling out my phone and saying to my daughter, look … over and over again,” she said.
DynamiCare Health developed the app. Founder Eric Gastfriend says so far, they’ve seen promising outcomes not only with opioid addicts but also with alcohol addiction and smoking.
“It’s really trying to get to the reward system in the brain that’s driving the addiction and create a countervailing force of rewards for staying sober and staying in treatment,” Gastfriend said.
Thompson got hooked on painkillers after she was prescribed them following surgery. Her addiction led her to crime and then prison.
Since her release, she’s made more than $800 using the technology. Her re-entry program provides the funds through a grant.
“I honestly say from my heart, that app got me to where I am,” Thompson said.
She says in the process, she’s learned she’s stronger than she thought and feels like she’s starting a new life.
Family members, friends, even insurance companies and employers can cover the incentive payments for users.
It’s innovative enough that recently DynamiCare was awarded $1 million for its development as part of the opioid technology challenge.