Scientists develop ‘drug-use tracker’ to combat prescription drug abuse

Scientists develop ‘drug-use tracker’ to combat prescription drug abuse

Opioid addiction is a serious problem affecting millions of people across the globe. The situation in the United States is dismal due to an opioid epidemic that has taken both young and old in its clutches. But not many understand the reality of the situation. With opioid abuse gobbling up the resources of the country “like a termite,” it is important to encourage those in need for proper treatment.

The latest tool to combat the prescription drug abuse is a “drug-use tracker” that can effectively monitor an addict’s drug use pattern and prevent addiction. Developed by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the device that is worn on the wrist can track opioid use of a habitual drug user.

The device is capable of identifying the pattern of drug use that can lead to serious addiction and at times to death due to overdose. Since rapid changes take place in the structure and function of the brain of drug users, there may be changes in their behavior and attitude. Their hands, or any other body part, may show unintentional and disorganized movements that can be tracked by the device and can be downloaded to an electronic device, such as a smartphone.

‘Pills’ that can ascertain prescription drug intake

Another breakthrough research taking place at the university laboratory revolves around unique “pills” that can ascertain the quantity and frequency of prescription drug intake in patients who are discharged from hospitals. The innovative device has an electronic sensor as well as medicine inside it. The tool starts functioning when the battery inside it gets activated on coming in contact with stomach acids. As a result, a radio transmitter is turned on that conveys a signal via the phone that can be downloaded to the cloud, said the researchers.

The researchers hope that the two innovative devices will help revolutionize the way pain medications are prescribed by doctors, they said. “The whole idea is to treat pain very effectively and prevent addiction very effectively,” said Dr. Ed Boyer, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Department of Emergency Medicine.

The scientists are also keen on finding some solution to the problem of relapse that most addicts face at the time of treatment. Their aim was to develop an intervention that could help people fight cravings in real-time scenario, thus, preventing the fallout of relapse. While the research is still going on, the scientists are hopeful that the device can be an effective weapon to fight opioid addiction.

Seeking help

Opioid overdose deaths account for nearly 61 percent drug overdose deaths in America. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 28,000 people died of opioid overdose in 2014, the highest annual figure till the year. In its report “Injury Prevention & Control: Opioid Overdose,” the CDC notes that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription drug. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has recommended certain evidence-based treatment modalities, including medications and behavioral therapies, which can help tackle the epidemic of opioid addiction.

Addiction to anything is harmful. The misconception that opioid overdoses are prevalent only among drug abusers or those with certain mental health condition has only aggravated the problem. Addiction does not happen at once. Abuse and overdose of opioids make people dependent on them.

If you or your loved one is hooked on opioids and is looking for help, you may get in touch with the California Prescription Abuse Helpline for information on various prescription drug rehabs in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-738-2770 or chat online for expert advice on available prescription drug addiction treatment in California.