A new form of support for those fighting against opiate addiction could be available via text.
This is the goal of researchers at the Faculty of Medicine of Washington University in St. Louis. The idea is for patients to receive regular check-in lyrics and make calls via an app to assess how they are feeling – if they are about to relapse, get punched or fight – and then forward their answers to a doctor ,  The research team believes that the service will be able to reduce the number of opioid addicts, reduce the risk of relapse for those affected and reduce treatment costs, while helping more doctors to help more patients , The study, published Tuesday in the journal NEJM Catalyst, said physicians could assess the overall status of their patients and help them decide whether more attention was needed.
The app will also have an emergency "panic button" that users can activate for immediate help if they feel that they have an immediate risk of relapse. Once pressed, an on-call employee called the patient to speak and see if an appointment with a doctor was needed.
"There is an urgent need to address the opioid crisis in a new, powerful way," said senior author Avik Som in a release. "In the opioid epidemic, time is crucial because it grows fast and life is lost."
Opioids such as prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, are extremely addictive drugs responsible for nearly 1
The app is intended to be added to the numerous support systems that a person under treatment should have available, according to the study, such as normal anesthetic anonymous meetings and group or individual therapy
"This is not intended to imply any major programs or direct contact between patients and providers, "said Som. "It is an additional tool that is affordable and immediate, and does not require costly and time-consuming measures such as the opening of drug abuse centers and the training and hiring of new employees."
A test group of 21 patients in the study began in 2016 with the SMS service as part of a substance abuse treatment program. Through three months of text correspondence, the researchers found that half of the patients using the app did not report drug use at all; and although nine relapsed within the first three days of the study, only two said they were still taking drugs after three months.
Successful patients attributed their progress, at least in part, to the ease and familiarity they felt with texting.
"SMS is convenient, immediate and not judgmental," said Som. "It has become an integral part of our communication in society, with patients reporting that they feel more connected to health care providers."
The next step of the study is to further determine how much money the app will save patients, health care providers, and physicians insurance companies in the fight against addiction. A larger focus group of patients, including those on Medicaid, will be used.
"In the midst of this national emergency," said Soms professor and mentor Will Ross, "it's crucial that patients and providers have clear, open channels of communication to mitigate the devastating effects of the opioid crisis."
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