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Ways AI Could Revolutionize Addiction Treatment

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April 2, 2024
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Addiction Treatment Advances with AI

With today’s advancing technology, there are constantly new methods and treatments being created to help combat substance use disorders (SUDs). Interestingly enough, artificial intelligence is now making its way into the world of addiction therapy. While you may have heard of AI before, most people are shocked to learn that new advances in its development involve therapeutic uses. Even though these use cases are still quite new at the moment, I think AI could be revolutionary for those who struggle with substance use.

What Are the Benefits of AI Therapy?

Benefits of AI Therapy

The most obvious of all the AI use cases is AI in addiction therapy. In fact, there are many benefits to utilizing AI in conjunction with therapy. One essential aspect is that there is no wait time to receive mental health care, as AI therapy can be accessed from a cell phone. It is a readily available resource, accessible to virtually anyone in need of therapy.

As it is done through texting, it allows the patient to converse as easily as if they were talking with a friend or loved one. Also, because it is an online resource, it is free to access. This makes it a great resource for those who are worried about the finances surrounding therapy or various treatments.

However, it’s essential to point out that AI therapy is still not the same as working one on one with a licensed therapist who knows you and your struggle. Building a relationship with a therapist is a crucial part of SUD treatment, and developing the tools necessary to remain in recovery takes time, personal attention, and trust. Thus, AI therapy should be used in conjunction with skilled SUD treatment and therapy from a licensed professional.

Five Ways AI Could Revolutionize Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Top 5 AI Innovations Transforming Substance Abuse Treatment

Millions of people struggle with mental health every year– about 1 in 5, to be exact. Unfortunately, although many of these people desperately need therapy or addiction treatment, about 40% of Americans don’t have access to therapy or treatment. This is where incorporating AI into SUD treatment can prove to be useful. The following are five ways that AI can be used to benefit SUD treatment:

1. Combines Mental Care With Healthcare

When a licensed counselor or therapist (or even a general physician) uses AI, they can develop a complete picture of a patient’s physical and mental health over time. By identifying patterns or red flags not always significant to the human eye, AI can alert a doctor if there is a risk that the patient is suffering from a serious mental disorder. This is especially helpful for those suffering from SUDs, as many times, they may not realize how serious their behavior has become.

For example, many people who develop substance disorders with opioids do so after they have major surgery. This is because they are often prescribed opioids to help combat the pain that follows their procedure. By incorporating AI, doctors and patients can see when a patient requires more medication. This helps to ensure that no one is overprescribed. Additionally, AI can detect potential substance use issues developing if a patient demonstrates certain symptoms.

2. Decreasing Human Error

A study was conducted where AI was trained to look for warning signs of suicide attempts over the course of time, helping to provide insight on how to prevent these attempts. Another study included an algorithm that was designed to pick up on mental disorders, such as depression and PTSD, by studying body language and tone of voice.

These studies remind mental healthcare providers that these tools can be incredibly useful for looking beneath the surface. Just because a person looks healthy on the outside does not mean that they are mentally healthy. AI tools not only remind doctors to look beneath the surface but also help them identify these hidden signs.

3. Finding Early Warning Signs

If you’re someone who may be prone to depression, AI may be able to warn your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms. Researchers are working on algorithms that study a patient’s tone of voice, potentially diagnosing those who are likely to develop psychosis or severe depression.

These kinds of tools can be life-saving. Analyzing language is sometimes used to warn doctors when a patient’s health has taken a downward turn. When it comes to mental health, timing is everything, especially in the case of substance use disorders and substance use. AI tools can assist in alerting mental health providers to dangerous symptoms that a patient is experiencing, potentially avoiding overdoses or other harmful outcomes.

4. Continuous Support

With AI, there is no longer a wait to receive healthcare for your mental wellness. AI gives you access to an addiction treatment professional’s chatbot or app wherever you are in the world, at any time. If you are experiencing an emergency and need to reach out to a therapist in the middle of the night, there is no longer a waiting period. Instead, your designated AI therapy program is waiting and ready to assist you at all times. When you find yourself in need of support, simply tap the app on your phone.

5. Debunking the Stigmatization of Mental Issues

Having a mental illness does not carry as much of a stigma as it once did. Making your mental health a priority is not shameful. In most cases, taking care of your mental health is encouraged and celebrated. Still, there are those who feel deep shame upon being diagnosed with a mental illness.

Making mental health treatment more accessible is an amazing way to continue to decrease the stigma surrounding it. While many people are embarrassed by their mental health, it’s important to remember that countless individuals seek treatment and support every day. Plus, with AI making certain forms of treatment more accessible, more and more people can continue to get the help they need without having to feel bad about it.

Keep in mind that while AI is a wonderful tool, it is not meant to replace a human therapist. This tool can be used around the clock, while human therapists are not always available. For those who live in remote areas, AI can serve as accessible mental healthcare.

Ways AI Is Being Used to Treat Addiction

How AI is being used to Treat Addiction

Science and technology are continually improving, helping those in the medical field to take massive steps toward better healthcare. This includes using AI. While AI is simply an automated program that carries out human instructions or mimics human actions, this technology shows amazing progress when used to treat addiction. The following are just a few ways AI has proven itself useful:

Anticipating a Crisis

As AI programs continue to improve, so does their ability to recognize and follow patterns. For example, as an AI program begins to better understand its patient, it can quickly learn the symptoms a patient exhibits when they are struggling and alert their healthcare provider when needed. This technology is advanced enough to even predict suicide attempts.

In the same fashion, AI uses similar data when it comes to predicting a crisis or relapse by interpreting a patient’s current emotional, mental, and physical status. This data is then sent to physicians, warning them of any potential danger and avoiding a relapse or even an overdose.

Finding the Proper Support System

If you’re struggling with an SUD and looking to recover, it’s essential that you have a strong support system. However, I truly understand just how lonely the journey of recovery can be. For many of us, it can be difficult to think about recovering when you feel like no one is on your side. Luckily, I believe that using this AI function in times of need can help to change that for many of us who are in recovery. In fact, AI can even pair you with other people who are struggling with similar things as you.

Through unique algorithms, AI can identify matching circumstances, pairing two people together to encourage each other as they recover. With these tools, individuals can not only connect but also seek advice from someone who has walked the same journey. These apps can also connect patients to rehab facilities in the event that they need further assistance or fear facing a relapse.

Furthermore, these apps also help patients, especially young adults who are considered at-risk, remove negative influences from their lives and find positive ones. With the use of algorithms, the apps take into consideration the history of the relationship between two individuals, determining whether or not they should continue depending upon the results of their evaluation.

Beginning Treatment

Admitting that you are a person with substance use disorder is a difficult truth to face. For some, it takes a while before they are able to admit that they suffer from SUD and that they need help. There are AI programs that can assist patients in taking the first steps by suggesting major lifestyle changes. This advice includes removing themselves from toxic behaviors and habits and recommending diet and exercise instead. As the patient progresses, the AI program can track these steps and make further recommendations for recovery.

This resource is especially beneficial for those who are uncomfortable with the idea of physically meeting in support groups. Individuals can keep track of their progress towards recovery while also having the ability to connect with peers and coaches. Because of these programs, it is possible for patients to approach treatment calmly and comfortably, possibly with more confidence as well.

Chatbots

As AI has been used primarily in customer service roles, it is not surprising that it would be used in a similar manner in regard to mental health care. One of the most common AI customer support tools is chatbots. These programs simulate conversations, either by voice or by text, with the intent of solving issues for the user.

In reference to SUD treatment, rehab centers can utilize AI chatbots for emergency messages. The program can filter through non-emergency messages, sending urgent messages to mental healthcare providers. Furthermore, it can assist rehab centers with keeping up with documentation as well as other administrative duties. As a result, the organization of the facility improves, as well as the ability to meet the needs of the patients.

How Does AI Help Mental Health Professionals to Improve the Accuracy of Diagnosis and Treatment?

As AI can track the behavioral and emotional progress of the patient over time, it can help alert a mental healthcare professional if there is a potential crisis or if a change in treatment is needed. Algorithms can be programmed to be so precise to ensure the accuracy of diagnosis, as well as analyze data from sessions to determine how much of the conversation was constructive.

With clinics and rehab facilities becoming overloaded with patients, AI helps to ensure that therapists maintain quality therapy sessions, keep accurate documents, and track the patient’s progress.

Reminder: AI Therapy Should Not Be a Substitute for Human Therapy

AI Therapy shouldn’t be a substitution for Human Therapy

While there are several great advantages to utilizing AI within the mental healthcare realm, it is important to remember that while it can be a great tool, it cannot replace human contact. We all crave the need for human connection and interaction. We all need to be seen, heard, and validated.

It is helpful and sometimes necessary to converse with a chatbot. In addition, there are several supplemental treatments to help with the recovery process by using AI. However, when emergencies arise and there is a threat of a relapse or overdose, having support from a human therapist and other mental healthcare professionals is necessary.

Connect With Me

Substance use disorder is frightening when faced alone. Recovery is attainable when you are willing to work hard and take the necessary steps. But it’s an easier journey when you have the proper support. If you are facing an SUD alone and need someone to support you, please connect with me for more information.

You can do this!

Jim


Sources:

  1. Southern Adventist University. (n.d.). Unlocking Mental Health Inclusion: The Benefits of AI in Promoting Emotional Well-being. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://www.sa.edu/blog/unlocking-mental-health-inclusion-the-benefits-of-ai-in-promoting-emotional-well-being/
  2. Forbes Technology Council. (2020, August 19). Five Ways AI Can Help Revolutionize Mental Healthcare. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/08/19/five-ways-ai-can-help-revolutionize-mental-healthcare/?sh=77d8c84013ab
  3. World Economic Forum. (2021, December). AI and Mental Health: CBT Therapy. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/12/ai-mental-health-cbt-therapy/
  4. Technology.org. (2023, January 19). Ways AI Is Being Used to Treat Addiction and Substance Abuse. https://www.technology.org/2023/01/19/ways-ai-is-being-used-to-treat-addiction-and-substance-abuse/
  5. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental Health By the Numbers. https://nami.org/mhstats
  6. Kaiser Family Foundation. (n.d.). Mental Health Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D
  7. Clinical Psychological Science. (n.d.). [Title of the Article]. Sage Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2167702617691560?journalCode=cpxa
  8. PubMed. (2016, April 7). [Title of the Study]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27046598/
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James Haggerty
JIM HAGGERTY

A Time to Heal: Family Interventions offers personalized SUD Interventions, Addiction Recovery Planning, Case Management, Sober Companionship and Family Support. Call 310-450-6627 to connect with us.

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