MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Opioid overdoses kill more than 130 people every day in the U.S., the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As healthcare providers and scientists search for solutions to save lives, a Boston tech company is being recognized for a new app that provides financial incentives to users who stay off drugs.
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,” she says, “Everything is just so good.”
She credits much of her recent success to an app on her phone that holds her accountable with random breathalyzer and drug tests. Results are immediate, and the testing is monitored by video.
Thompson is rewarded with up to $200 per month for not using, for working, and for attending meetings.
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 says.
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 earned 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 says, “I know I did the work, but it was right here with me.” 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, insurance companies, and employers can cover the incentive payments for users.
Recently, DynamiCare was awarded a million dollars for its innovation as part of the Opioid Technology Challenge.