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UAMS gets $2.5 million to create phone app preventing opioid relapse

The app will provide brief interventions, like messages of reinforcement, as well as a GPS in an effort to prevent a relapse.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Researchers at UAMS have been granted $2.5 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to determine if a cell phone application can reduce the relapse rate in people with opioid use disorder.

Andrew James, Ph.D., is the principal investigator in the study, which according to UAMS will develop a cell phone app to prevent relapse among people receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder.

The app will provide brief interventions, like messages of reinforcement, in an effort to prevent a relapse.

“While MAT is one of our best treatments for opioid use disorders, approximately half of patients relapse during the first year of treatment,” said James. “But smartphone apps that provide daily brief interventions have been shown to reduce smoking and alcohol misuse. We believe these same principles can also reduce opioid misuse among patients receiving MAT.”

Participants will continue to receive MAT and will undergo an MRI to understand how the brain changes during recovery from addiction.

The app will also include a GPS component to detect when patients enter hot spots or personalized areas that could potentially lead to a relapse.

For more information, visit www.uamshealth.com.

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