New app provides financial incentives to users who stay off drugs

Published: Nov. 21, 2019 at 2:23 PM EST
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Opioid overdoses kill more than 130 people every day in the U.S. And as health care providers and scientists search for solutions to save lives, a Boston tech company is being recognized for a new app that provides financial incentives to users who stay off drugs.

When Joy Thompson shares how long she's been in recovery and off the painkillers that derailed her life, she can't help but smile. "Four years," she said. "I feel amazing, everything is just so good."

She credits much of her recent success to this app on her phone that holds her accountable. With random breathalizer and drug tests. "This what you're seeing -- right here is my history. This is the date, and what type of test I took," Thompson said.

Results are immediate. The testing is monitored by video and Thompson is rewarded with up to $200 per month for not using, working and attending meetings.

Joy Thompson: The reward, of pulling out my phone and saying to my daughter, 'look!'

Kenneth Craig : Because you look right here at your history and you pull it up and it says successful, successful, successful.

Joy Thompson: Over and over again.

Dynamicare Health developed the app. Founder Eric Gastfriend says so far they've seen promising outcomes not only with opioid addicts, but also with alcohol addiction and smoking. "It's really tied to the reward system in the brain that's driving the addiction and create a countervailing force of rewards for staying sober and staying in treatment," he said.

Thompson got hooked on painkillers after she was prescribed them following surgery. Her addiction led her to crime and then prison. Since her release, she's made more than $800 using the technology. Her re-entry program provides the funds through a grant.

"I honestly say from my heart, that app got me to where I am ," Thompson said. "I know I did the work, but it was right here with me."

She says in the process, she's learned she's stronger than she thought, and feels like she's starting a new life.

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