Home Care and Treatment Mobile Medical Apps: Tools to Help With Substance Use Disorder

Mobile Medical Apps: Tools to Help With Substance Use Disorder


In the United States drug and alcohol addiction relapse rates are between 40% and 60% (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2018). Technology is being utilized to decrease addiction relapse rates. The United States Drug and Food Administration has permitted marketing of a digital therapeutic app for substance use disorder, or SUD (Food and Drug Administration, 2017). The mobile medical application permitted by the FDA is named Reset.

Reset application is used in combination with outpatient therapy to treat alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and stimulant SUD. Opioid dependence is not treated by the app (Food and Drug Administration, 2017).

Digital therapeutics are mobile medical apps or online technologies used to help patients manage their own health and wellness (Food and Drug Administration, 2017). Substance Use Disorder occurs when an individual recurrently uses alcohol or drugs which causes functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disabilities and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school or home (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2018). Reset provides therapy to patients by helping to increase abstinence from substance abuse and increasing retention in outpatient therapy (Food and Drug Administration, 2017). Patients must have a prescription to obtain the Reset device. The digital therapeutic app has a clinician dashboard and patient application (Food and Drug Administration, 2017). The FDA permitted Pear Therapeutics to market Reset. Pear Therapeutics has developed Reset to be used with outpatient treatment for substance abuse (Pear Therapeutics, 2018).

The Reset app has proven to increase abstinence from substance abuse during treatment and increase retention in treatment. The app provides behavioral therapy that educates the patient by providing skills that assists in decreasing the relapse rate. Pear Therapeutics evaluated the digital therapeutic in a clinical trial. Patients entering ten outpatient addiction treatment programs were randomly assigned to either 12 weeks of standard care or 12 weeks of standard care with Therapeutic Education System (TES), an internet delivered behavioral intervention (Campbell et al, 2014) TES consisted of 62 computerized interactive modules that discuss skills to achieve and maintain abstinence from substance abuse (Campbell et al., 2014). The Therapeutic Education System has equivalent content to Reset (Pear Therapeutics, 2018).

Results from the study revealed the TES group or the group using Reset were abstinent 58.1% of patients, while only 29.8% of patients who used only traditional therapy were abstinent (Pear Therapeutics, 2018). Also, patients using Reset or TES had improvements in retention and greater abstinent.

Reset has the potential to improve treatment outcomes (Campbell et al., 2014). Research has revealed that combining treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the optimal method to ensure success for patients with substance use disorder. The most beneficial treatment programs for substance use disorder incorporate a variety of service/tools into their comprehensive treatment protocol (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2018). Digital therapeutics can help with the behavioral therapy components of treatment by assisting with attitudes related to drug use (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2018). Combining medication with digital therapeutics can help increase retention rates in regards to treatment. Digital therapeutics are helping patients with substance use disorder to maintain abstinence and are possibly the new wave of the future in healthcare tools.

For more information on this topic read “A New Sort of Health App Can Do the Job of Drugs.”



Campbell, AN, Nunes, EV, Matthews, AG, Stitzer, M., Miele, GM, Polsky, D., …Ghitza,UE. (2014). Internet-Delivered Treatment for Substance Abuse: A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 171(6): 683-90. doi: 10.11776/appi.ajp. 2014. 13081055. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24700332

Economist. (2018). A New Sort of Health App Can do the job of drugs. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/news/business/21736197-smartphones-are-increasingly-deliverying-verified-treatments-diabetes-addictions-and-adhd

Food and Drug Administration. (2017). FDA permits marketing of mobile medical application for substances use disorder. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/Press-Announcements/ucm576087.htm

National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2018). Drugs, Brains, Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

Pear Therapeutics. (2018). Reset for Substance Use Disorder. Retrieved from https://peartherapeutics.com/reset/

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/substance-use

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