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UAMS researchers create app with hopes to reduce drug use

Researchers from UAMS are working on an app designed to decrease cravings and help reverse habits that could lead to a relapse.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Three researchers from UAMS have been working to save a generation from drug addiction, and they've been doing it all with the help of a cell phone.

Andrew James, Ph.D., Ronald G. Thompson, Ph.D., and Mary Bollinger, Ph.D. have created the app, OptiMAT (Optimizing Medication Assisted Treatment).

It is a self-monitoring system where you log your moods and emotions, the level of opioid cravings, and if you've used the drug in the past 24 hours.

The app then provides feedback based on your progress and your goals.

"You know, smartphone apps have really emerged as tools to promote healthy behaviors," said Ron Thompson, one of the app developers.

It also has a GPS option where you can list areas that could trigger a temptation— and if you stay in the area for a certain amount of time it will alert you.

"If they stay in there and they get a text and then we have them rate their cravings and then give them encouragement sort of just in time to say hey call your sponsor, call your friend, call us," said Thompson.

The app has been in the works for about a year now. In January, the app will begin its initial trial for participants to test the technology.

If that goes well, the developers hope to introduce the app to the public in a year.

If you are in need of immediate assistance for a drug-use disorder, you can call the Department of Human Services Addiction Support Hotline at 1-844-763-0198.

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