Automating Addiction Treatment

This article focuses on the need to envision a more technologically enabled addiction treatment system in the year 2020 and describes how this vision of the future might work—offering ideas about how to achieve such a system.

The field of addiction treatment has struggled to respond to a combination of rapidly increasing demand and decreasing funding for services. In 2004, a group of cross-disciplinary thinkers met to design a future addiction treatment system that would reduce human care provider involvement and simultaneously increase access to treatment. This futuristic plan has several key elements:

  • Technological tracking of moods, triggers and risk factors;
  • Personalized public health messages and virtual experiences;
  • Integrated medical systems and records, including comprehensive aid at a variety of addiction service locations; and 
  • Help for families, and access to diagnostic tools.

While the system outlined in this article is set several years in the future, NIATx (formerly called the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment) is already moving toward a more technologically enabled system by using innovative solutions to move more people into treatment, using existing resources more efficiently and reducing the cost of care.