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The Latest Strategies in Treatments for Addiction

From Wellness Interactive Branding, LLC.

Digital Therapeutics

Wellness apps have been dramatically increasing in popularity over the last several years. Now, tech companies are reaching into another area — targeting opioid addiction with digital therapeutics that utilize cognitive behavioral therapy.  Backed by medical research and provided by prescription, digital therapeutics are being viewed as a way to supplement, or sometimes even replace, pharmaceuticals to treat addiction, as well as potentially other physical and mental health issues.


This 12-week cognitive behavioral therapy program, often used in combination with buprenorphine for adults who also are under the care of a therapist has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.  The goal of the app is to “reprogram” the brain’s reward centers — disrupting the current behavior chain and learning new skills that help you to make lifestyle changes and stop self-defeating patterns.


Available 24/7, these digital therapies are showing promise by helping people remain in therapy while helping them and their treatment professional track their progress through data obtained on the app. This includes data gathered from answering quiz questions, reporting medication usage and reporting substance use, cravings and triggers.


Everyone knows that exercise, as a whole, is important for good health. Now, researchers are trying to find out if exercise can help people in recovery from addiction. Small, controlled studies are being done to correlate exercise programs with substance use abstinence and decrease of use of a variety of substances including opioids, cocaine, amphetamines, and cannabis.


More research is needed, but the results do appear to be promising. Many patients have reported that exercise has helped them to be distracted from cravings, while providing structure, and helping them to form positive social connections. In addition, regular exercise, including workouts/programs with other people have helped to treat anxiety and depression when used in combination with other types of therapies.


A big component of the benefits of exercise to recovery is the connection with people. Certainly, the term strength in numbers can be used here. There are several nonprofit organizations that utilize physical activity of different types to encourage recovery and support sobriety. One is The Phoenix, whose mission is offering “a free sober active community to individuals who have suffered from a substance use disorder and to those who choose a sober life. Using a peer support model, we help members heal and rebuild their lives while also striving to eliminate stigma around recovery.”  Originally launched in 2006, The Phoenix has expanded to a number of different states and includes such activities as peer-led CrossFit, yoga, rock climbing, running, boxing, and hiking events. 

Mobile Wellness – Providing Greater Access to Treatment

Another option that is popping up in places like the state of Maryland is bringing mobile vehicles right to where they are needed the most. Responding to a sharp increase in overdose deaths, particularly ones from heroin mixed with fentanyl, the Lieutenant Governor and various state and county health officials have launched the Maryland Mobile Wellness Initiative.


The 38-foot recreational vehicle has various medical personnel and addiction treatment resources and will offer counseling, blood tests, naloxone, and diverse resources to help people with long-term treatment. The current strategy is to station the mobile unit at a center for homeless programs in Anne Arundel County because the county has seen the most deaths due to opioids. Tackling the epidemic on the front lines, this strategy could really take hold and become a go-to resource for other communities.

Rebuilding Communities

One additional treatment strategy for helping with sustained recovery is a community-focused one. Taking into account the complexity of addiction, and the frequent cycle of substance use-recovery/rehabilitation-substance use, leaders are trying to help people out of that vicious circle.


Attempting to change the environment, which can be challenging economies and lack of jobs, Scioto County, Ohio, is elevating discussions, has created a Substance Abuse Advisory Council, and is launching programs that work on addiction while improving the local economy. This is meant to not only address the complexities of addiction – but also addressing the need for stronger communities as a foundation for overall health, well-being, and quality of life.    


With entrepreneurial hubs, counseling centers, wellness programs, housing issues, as well as a focus on justice/legal issues related to addiction, the county is taking a holistic approach to reducing deaths related to addiction while strengthening the community as a whole.


As health and wellness practitioners, community leaders, and others continue to push forward in helping people with addiction, creativity and innovation will be a focus. The more ideas and initiatives being implemented will result in more people being helped — and hopefully, more lives saved — setting the stage for new beginnings.

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