How wearable devices are becoming key players in the fight against addiction

WAREABLE, MAY 2018

Most wearable technology is created to make your life a bit better or a bit easier, whether that’s by sending notifications to your wrist or keeping tabs on your workouts.

While wearables designed to act as medical monitors or diagnostic aids are on the rise, a number of companies are exploring how wearable technology can address the physical and psychological, complications behind addiction in an attempt to help people overcome it.

The word ‘addiction’ is used in a lot of different contexts. People talk about being addicted to everything from Facebook and coffee through to hard drugs and gambling. But medically speaking it’s when a person becomes dependent on a particular substance or activity.

Addiction can look different depending on the substance or the activity and depending on the person. Often the reward of the addiction provides enough of a compelling incentive for someone to keep doing the addictive behaviour – despite the consequences often being detrimental to their wellbeing.

The most common addictions vary depending on geographical region and demographic, but they tend to be nicotine, alcohol and drugs.

The problem with better understanding these addictive behaviours, and helping people to overcome them, is that they often have many layers. According to Psychology Today, substance use disorders tend to increase the likelihood of other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. This means when it comes to treating addiction, there’s a hell of a lot to consider.

Just as different people can experience different kinds of addiction in different ways, the road to recovery can be very different too. Some people can go through natural recovery on their own, others find support in a community or group therapy, others have clinical-based recovery, which can involve medication or different kinds of therapy. And many others recover for some time to then relapse days, months or years later.

Although doctors and scientists are learning more about addiction every day, it’s clear there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. So how can technology help to make recovery easier and possibly even more effective?

Well, it’s still early days for wearable tech created to address addiction. There are few devices or solutions already on the market and some of the best ideas are currently seeking funding and approval, which is a lengthy process. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a great deal to get excited about.

 

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