Can Big Data Improve Addiction Recovery?

Group therapy for addictionOver 21 million people in America battle drug addiction. That’s 6% of the population!

Substance abuse’s financial burden on the nation is about $600 billion!

To lower those numbers, researchers are turning to data to better understand how they can help.

Addiction recovery professionals are using data to understand how different people are abusing drugs as well as finding more effective treatment.

Let’s first look at how big data is helping to understand those addicted to drugs.

Monitoring The Addiction

While some may think social media is a drug itself, a recent study of social media forums where drug abuse was the topic helped lead to useful data.

This study looked at the behavioral data behind drug abuse.

Because people are more honest over the internet, the study showed how different users abused drugs and how they viewed addiction recovery centers.

One user even spoke about how they were given meth by the rehab nurse!

This kind of information isn’t likely shared with doctors. Social media monitoring allows that data to be collected.

Another study by MAP Health Management looked directly into the opioid abuse.

It found that 70% of the addicted patients studied were male and that 77% of the patients were between the ages of 21-35.

Using this data they know who is more likely to become addicted and how to help set the patient on a better road to recovery.

The same study that looked at opioids users also looked into how successful different forms of rehabilitation were… which leads us to the second way that data is helping to reshape addiction recovery.

Data Improves the Addiction Recovery Process

According to the opioid patient study, the chance or relapse drops off dramatically after 12 to 18 months of sobriety and recovery.

The study says that extending the care past the hospital stay is more effective for the patient.

It’s also cheaper for the patient, insurance companies, and the taxpayers.

Their data backs this up as well. Extended care may cost more than short-term upfront, but in the long run short-term care adds up. Data showed that with extended care, 82% of patients were drug-free after 15 months.

The recovery is more effective with extended care so extended care is only a one-time payment. Short-term care can see patients return many times, increasing the total cost

Through the use of telehealth patients are able to keep up the progress on their own.

Face It TOGETHER, A South Dakota non-profit organization is also using data to help bring recovery into the 21st century. Their goal is to find better ways to solve the problem of drug abuse.

The organization created the Recovery Capital Index. It uses data to measure how each individual person’s rehab is coming along. The Recovery Capital Index uses data to track patients, but it also gives data to the doctors and pros helping them.

Their platform, Axis, connects pros in real time to patients on a personal basis.

That allows Face It TOGETHER to collect more data on what type of treatment works for what person and what is less effective.

Technology and data have become very common in the world of business, entertainment, sports, and agriculture. Even other sections of healthcare depend on data and technology to do their jobs.

And now, finally, addiction recovery is turning to data to help understand the behavior behind abuse as well as what the best forms of treatment are.


Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.

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