A smart new app is ready to replace the little hit your brain’s reward center gets from drugs or alcohol with a daily dose of 5 dollars instead.
It has been already known that little rewards can act as instant gratification to disrupt dependency behavior, especially if gift cards or vouchers are for activities that encourage positive habits. Using apps, games, and other tech to help treat diseases like addiction is known as digital therapeutics.
“All the drugs of abuse disrupt the brain reward center, which is deeper in the brain,” DynamiCare cofounder David Gastfriend, told the Boston Globe. “When we just put people in detox and then send them for counseling, we’re saying, ‘Use your thinking brain to try and overcome your chemical drive center.’ The problem is behavior works in the opposite direction.”
A study in 2011 found out that researchers, clinicians, and the public can be equally doubtful of contingency management treatments, also called the reward method. Gasfriend doesn’t let users spend money on certain items or in certain situations and monitors other behaviors like rehab appointment attendance. The app can also be linked to Bluetooth breathalyzers to ensure someone’s sobriety.
Some people who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse may benefit from 12-step programs, while others might rely on religious or community support groups or even medication.