Software helps drug abusers recover

June 24, 2010
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A social networking tool developed jointly by UCCS and Syberenety LLC may soon be available to help recovering addicts stay connected to medical providers and personal support networks.

Through an interactive online social support network environment coupled with applications on a handheld device, users can stay connected with professional and personal mentors. These connections give those battling addiction improved opportunity to avoid relapse. The technology underlying the social network tool was recently optioned to Syberenety LLC, a Colorado-based company seeking to help those recovering from addiction find support in a secure online network.

Individuals struggling to overcome a dependency or addiction can benefit from consistent and frequent interaction with medical professionals, assigned mentors, and approved peers and family members. However, constant interaction with these groups is typically not practical or realistic. A social networking tool developed by Rory Lewis, assistant professor, Computer Science, and Terry Boult, El Pomar Endowed Chair of Innovation and Security, is a crucial element of the Syberenety system, which creates a dynamic social network where individuals recovering from substance abuse can interact with peer and professional mentors. This social networking aspect is combined with smart phone applications that monitor specific physiological and geographical data.

The technology employs biometrics, GPS, and other elements to gather relevant data about the user. This data may be interpreted by a designated person in the user’s support network to determine if the user is intoxicated or in a location inconsistent with recovery. The technology employs safeguards to ensure only intended users have access.

The architecture of the system was engineered to protect patient privacy in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act while enabling designated mentors to receive information. Additionally, the smart phone application monitors sobriety levels and number of days sober since relapse of all participants in the network through tests of balance and reaction time.

“The systems of Syberenety will give organizations additional tools to provide enhanced recovery support to individuals battling dependencies,” Steve Bassett, chief executive manager, Syberenety and a 2009 UCCS graduate, said. “The disease of alcohol and drug addiction costs society over 200 billion dollars annually – even the smallest offset to that cost is of very high monetary and cultural value. We are pleased to be bringing University of Colorado technologies to bear on this critical national problem.”

Syberenety hopes to launch the tool in spring 2011.

–Lindsay Polak, CU Technology Transfer Office

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