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The Top Tech Startups Fighting Addiction in the US

According to the NIH, more than 115 people in the United States die every day from opioid overdose. Additionally, there are 3.3 million deaths globally per year from alcohol consumption, and alcohol contributes to more than 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions. Alcohol and opioids are among many of the substances that prove fatal for millions. Incarceration for illicit substances has proven to be largely ineffective against drug addiction; clinicians and policy makers are moving toward therapeutic means, often in the form of digital health, in order to solve what many consider a public health crisis.

According to an NCBI study, “The Use of Emerging Technologies in Alcohol Treatment,” many prefer digital health rehabilitation solutions rather than to face-to-face methods. The article states, “taken together, the potential for emerging technologies to supplement standard treatment approaches in a cost efficient fashion, and to promote access to those traditionally underserved by our current treatment options, makes this an exciting area for research and development.”

Furthermore, a JMIR cross-sectional survey study “Technology and Social Media Use Among Patients Enrolled in Outpatient Addiction Treatment Programs: Cross-Sectional Survey Study” interviewed white and African American men under the poverty line, and found that the majority of respondents said they would prefer to use a relapse prevention app on their phone or receive relapse prevention text messages. Nearly half expressed an interest in allowing their social media accounts to be monitored as a relapse prevention technique.

Sam Frons, CEO of Addicaid, says “What’s really going to be a game changer in addiction recovery is making something that is comfortable and organic and natural for people— something that gives them a sense of purpose. That’s what AA has done for people, it helps people give back to the community, while building it and making it stronger.”

Here are the top Addiction Technology Startups Fighting Substance Abuse in the US today:

1. emocha

emocha is a Baltimore, MD based startup that has raised $1M in a Seed Round announced on July 29, 2017. emocha has developed a mobile application that regulates the way patients take their medication to improve medication adherence, strengthen patient-provider relationships, and reduce costs through its digital observation platform. The mobile application ensures patients are correctly taking their medication through video as patients hold up the camera to their face before taking a dose,which helps keep opioid addiction at bay by ensuring that doses are never abused. Emocha also has achieved a 95% adherence rate to medication compared to a 50% rate of adherence without emocha. Their application is being used in public health, clinical trials, opioid use disorder treatment, hospitals, and managed care organizations. Further, they’ve received funding from NIDA to formally study the acceptability and feasibility of the application for patients who are receiving take-home buprenorphine treatment.

Sebastian Seiguer, CEO of emocha says, “emocha secures dose-by-dose medication adherence through video technology. Our platform helps establish trust between patients and care teams, connecting them between in-person appointments. Having a touchpoint with a patient at every dose improves retention in care, while our mobile technology makes those interactions scalable across large populations of patients.”

2. Addicaid

Addicaid  is a San Francisco based startup that has raised a $290K Seed Round, announced on October 5, 2017. It is a community driven mobile application that combines the power of AI with the behavioral health expertise of clinicians. The application takes data from tens of thousands of users in order to inform how chatbots interact with users. Furthermore, there are different threads that allow users to interact with one another. It is the first application based, positive feedback driven platform for addicts of all kinds. The app focuses its technology on the addicts first, giving them the essential social interaction necessary for healing with others who personally understand their struggle.

CEO and Founder Sam Frons says, “An ideal long term Addicaid user is someone who would check in on it every few weeks and help out others because we don’t want people to be using the app all the time. I see it as a building block. It’s a service to get patients connected and get their habits on track, and then come back online to help out others every so often.”

3. Neurocarrus

Neurocarrus is a Lincoln, Nebraska company that is currently raising a Seed Round. It is a biotechnology company developing drug delivery technology in order to disrupt pain signals without the use of addiction-forming medications or disruption of muscular control. While 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and many opioid addictions begin with prescriptions, the development of alternative drug therapies is more important than ever. Their drug therapy, N-001, safely disrupts peripheral sensory neurons, alleviating pain from tissue damage or inflammation or acute nerve damage. In other words, it affects the physiological aspects of pain without invasive surgery or absorbing drugs into the affected tissue. Furthermore, the startup has done extensive research in vivo data that supports the efficacy of N-001.

CEO, Dr. Paul Blum,  says “At a time when the opioid epidemic in America is at an all-time high, we need to continue to innovate and bring alternative pain treatments to market. That is exactly what Neurocarrus is doing.”

4. WeRecover

WeRecover is a Santa Monica, California based startup that raised a Seed Round, announced on May 19, 2017. The startup has created the first online matching engine for addiction recovery centers. After patients fill out a standard online application, a matching algorithm pairs them with relevant rehab centers with open beds, based off of accessibility of the patient, including budget, insurance, and program relevance. While many patients may recognize that their addiction is becoming problematic, they may struggle finding access to rehab centers. This online search tool helps patients find the center that is the perfect fit for them to get immediate help and maintain their privacy.

Header Image: Neurocarrus

Leah D'Sa

    Leah D’Sa is a Junior studying Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She is currently a copyeditor for the school newspaper the Berkeley Beacon as well as Poetry Editor for the literary magazine the Emerson Review. She is looking to begin her career with health technology writing as she seeks to combine her lifelong love of writing and science.

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