Improving Addiction Treatment Through New Technologies

From 2005 to 2007, researchers at the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched Innovations for Recovery, an initiative to explore how information technology can improve treatment and recovery programs for people who suffer from substance abuse and dependence. In 2008, in a related project, the center examined the potential of a popular Web-based virtual world to enhance recovery outcomes.

Key Results

  • Created the Innovations for Recovery (IFR) Network prototype. Using a combination of mobile technology and Web-based applications, the model illustrates how people in recovery can have anytime, anywhere access to six core services: social support, virtual counseling, education and training, location tracking, assessment and alerts.

  • Crafted an interactive website that uses streaming video and flash animation to demonstrate how the prototype works. The site provides other information about how technologies, such as smartphones and Web-based databases, can improve services to patients in recovery from substance abuse.

  • Convened a two-day meeting of eight leaders in addiction treatment to discuss how the Internet-based virtual world, Second Life, can augment traditional addiction treatment programs. An online report summarizes the meeting findings.

  • Obtained two federal grants to follow through with the recommendations.