The road to recovery from addiction isn’t linear; it often has bumps, turns, and unexpected detours along the way. Most people find recovery is not an overnight accomplishment, but rather a journey requiring love, support, and patience.

Wearable devices have become increasingly popular over the recent decade, with Fitbit and the Apple Watch changing how we monitor our health and wellness. Many healthcare innovators have been exploring ways to use fit-tech and wearable devices to improve diagnostics and treatment plans in recent years. Addiction recovery services fall under this umbrella.

Here are some of the exciting ways wearable devices are helping those with addictions on their journey and aiding in the prevention of relapse incidents.

Help pinpoint triggers

Developing self-awareness plays a significant role in preventing relapse during addiction treatments. However, self-awareness is a learned skill that takes time to develop. Fortunately, wearable technology can help the wearer develop self-awareness through pinpointing and tracking triggers.

Stress is one of the most significant triggers that leads to a relapse. Fortunately, many mindfulness apps that integrate with wearable devices help the wearer record their emotional state and what caused it. These apps can also pinpoint subtle triggers that make the person more susceptible to emotional dysregulation — for example, poor sleep habits, low movement, or poor nutrition.

Wearables also have biometric sensors that can detect and alert people when they’re experiencing stress and anxiety. Sometimes awareness of one’s inner workings is all it takes to remind them to practice their coping strategies.

Further assistance in mood regulation

Further assistance in mood regulation

Beyond signaling that emotions are dysregulated, you can also use a wearable biohacking device to help execute the coping strategies and regulate your mood. Even basic Fitbits come with mindfulness exercises and breathing regulation protocols to help navigate stressful situations. More evolved devices use vibrations of various frequencies to trigger an emotional response in the body, which can be a sense of calm or even joy.

One of the unfortunate aspects of experiencing a trigger during the recovery journey is that you can’t always remove yourself from the situation or reach out to a support person in that moment. Having something on hand to aid in mood regulation and executing stop-gap measures to get through difficult situations can be incredibly beneficial.

Keeping things discreet

There’s a lot of misunderstanding, stigma, and shame surrounding addiction and recovery. Many people who need help — whether during a short-term trigger or longer-term one — don’t seek it out for fear of judgment. The benefit of wearable technology and our inter-connected lifestyle is that people struggling can seek help discreetly at any given time.

For example, if you’re struggling with smoking addiction and find yourself trapped in an area where someone is having a cigarette, you may be embarrassed by how it impacts you. With wearable tech, you can get the support you need to navigate the situation without anyone being the wiser. Apps like Smoke-Free are integrated with the Apple Watch for this purpose.

While people struggling with addiction should be allowed to share their experiences without judgment, unfortunately, it is not always possible.  Furthermore, triggers can happen at the most inconvenient times, such as during a business meeting for example, when sharing isn’t ideal.

Providing treatments

Providing treatments

Beyond helping someone execute their coping mechanisms, some wearable devices even provide treatments. The SmartStop device is a technical innovation similar to a nicotine patch. This wearable treatment provider delivers nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) directly into the bloodstream while monitoring biofeedback. The device syncs with an app so you can log your cravings and triggers. The dose naturally wanes over time, creating a sustainable, data-driven way to quit smoking.

A similar product on the market is DrugRelief, which was designed for those combatting opioid addictions. This device uses electrical pulses in response to cravings to help reduce both the craving and the withdrawal symptoms associated with the early days of detoxing from opioids. DrugRelief also sends an alert before a relapse occurs, letting the person know they’re at risk.

Many people struggling with addiction also rely on wearable tech for geolocation purposes. These devices can help support people find the individual in a crisis and provide more freedom for those in a recovery program. Rehab centers that offer online consultations like this online suboxone clinic is also vital if you don’t have the luxury of time to always visit a rehab center and admit yourselves.

Helping professionals with background data

Despite how far the medical industry has come over the centuries, there are still significant gaps in diagnostics and reporting. Using diagnostic tests shows a snapshot of what’s happening in someone’s body at one point in time, which isn’t always beneficial. For example, someone experiencing daily heart palpitations who goes in for an ECG might not experience a palpitation during the test. This issue doesn’t negate the fact that the patient has a problem, but it makes it incredibly difficult and costly to narrow down the cause.

The other side of this issue is reliance on self-reporting, which requires both self-awareness and honesty for practitioners to get an accurate picture of what’s happening. Again, the shame and stigma associated with addiction could lead to the person being untruthful about their experiences. Additionally, people don’t always remember exactly what they felt and when.

Wearable technology helps in two primary ways. First, it captures biometric data, creating tangible information about when someone experienced stress or triggers. Secondly, these devices encourage self-reporting and make it easy to log everything rather than relying on memory when an appointment occurs. This ties into building self-awareness.

Safely implementing exposure protocols

In addition to stress, one of the most challenging triggers is exposure. Someone battling alcohol addiction may be unable to avoid events where alcohol is present, as withdrawing from all social events could also be a trigger.

In these situations, many treatment professionals will help the person create exposure plans. An exposure plan gradually exposes the person to a trigger to help them develop coping mechanisms without experiencing a relapse.

One of the recent innovations in using wearable tech for addictions treatment is creating virtual reality exposure situations. In this situation, someone with an alcohol addiction may be introduced to a party where people are drinking. However, the wearer is actually in a controlled, safe setting with professional guidance. As virtual reality and augmented reality glasses become more prevalent, this form of wearable technology could be revolutionary in addiction treatment.

revolutionary in addiction treatment

In Conclusion

Wearable devices are transforming healthcare and addiction services. These are just a few of the ways that wearable tech can be used to help prevent relapses and help those struggling with addiction.

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