In the workers’ comp world, we’ve seen the consequences of addiction and substance abuse affecting the lives of injured workers and their families. That’s why we’re teaming up with WEconnect Recovery to create a series of articles that dive into the impact of this problem and solutions brought about by technology.  

By Murphy Jensen, co-founder and EVP business development of WEconnect Recovery and Daniela Tudor, co-founder and CEO of WEconnect Recovery

Turn on the news or look at the paper and you’ll see yet another tragic story about the opioid epidemic, alcoholism, or drug abuse. A story of not only a life, but a family, a community that was destroyed.

Responsible for over $1 trillion in healthcare costs, addiction is linked to 200+ illnesses and conditions.

So how do we fight this problem? We understand what methods keep people in recovery and how to apply them as solutions for addiction recovery.

Thanks to advancements in technology, these solutions are not only more efficient, but attainable.

A Pervasive Problem

It’s hard to not know someone who is suffering. Over three million people in the U.S. are in treatment.

And it’s not just those with substance abuse disorders who are suffering; it’s their families, their friends, their communities. Those who are there to support them. Those who must see them struggle. Nearly half of our nation is affected by addiction.

Addiction is difficult to overcome, that we know. But when you look at the ways people have overcome addiction, you can begin to find solutions to make recovery accessible to others.

Proven Methods for Staying in Recovery

Three different methods that are leveraged to keep patients in recovery include Contingency Management, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and the Community Reinforcement Approach.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most widely used evidence-based practice for improving mental health. Guided by empirical research, CBT focuses on the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems and changing unhelpful patterns in cognitions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes), behaviors, and emotional regulation. It was originally designed to treat depression, and is now used for a number of mental health conditions.

Contingency Management refers to the application of the three-term contingency which uses stimulus control and positive reinforcement to change behavior. Patients’ behaviors are rewarded for adherence to program rules and regulations of their treatment plan. CM derives from the science of applied behavior analysis, and by most evaluations, its procedures produce one of the largest effect sizes out of all mental health and educational interventions.

The Community Reinforcement Approach is a behavior therapy approach for treating addiction. The original community reinforcement approach developed by Nate Azrin in the 1970s, uses operant conditioning to help people learn to reduce the power of their addictions and enjoy healthy living. CRAFT combines CRA with family training, which equips families and friends with supportive techniques to encourage their loved ones to begin and continue treatment, and provides defenses against addiction’s damaging effects on loved ones.


How Technology Keeps Patients in Recovery

Innovative technology solutions have emerged to help keep patients sober. WEconnect recovery uses a combination of Contingency Management, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and the Community Reinforcement Approach to decrease relapse and help patients stay in long-term recovery.

The WEconnect platform has two components, a mobile app and a data dashboard. The app is provided to patients after leaving in-patient treatment and provides direct communication with counselors, family and friends, peers in recovery, and 12-step support group sponsors on a daily basis.

Patients enter their treatment plan into the app and are rewarded for completing recovery-related tasks with rewards like Starbucks gift cards or yoga and fitness classes. A calendar provides patients with their recovery activities at-a-glance, location verification, and accelerometers make staying on track simple, and provide accountability. An “SOS” button also lets patients immediately reach out to loved ones if they feel they need extra support.

The second part of the WEconnect platform is the dashboard, which is used by treatment centers across the United States to manage patient care, and quickly see which patients are on track, as well as those that need extra help. This helps clinicians save time and improve patient quality of life.

With access to applications and technology like WEconnect, addiction recovery is finally becoming a reality for those who never thought it possible.

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