The Rehab rip-off: smart apps are more helpful than conventional rehab

Being an addict is trying and tiring. Most Americans don’t appreciate what it takes to kick an addiction. People often have believe that a really good month at an in-patient rehabilitation is all a person needs to “get clean and stay clean” (in-patient means that patients live in the clinic). Unfortunately, the expensive in-patient rehab programs that give addicts constant 24 hour support, relaxing horseback rides, delicious food and great accommodations are not effective at fighting addictions. Rehab centers know this, but they prefer to extort millions out of desperate, misguided parents.

Addiction Rehab is a $42 billion industry. (Photo by fotografierende)

Why isn’t in-patient rehab effective? There are a few reasons. Many of the most popular (and expensive) programs include things like equine therapy and nature retreats that have little to no empirical evidence to verify their efficacy. Some types of treatment, like confrontation treatment, make addictions even worse. But even when behavioral health professionals use more effective methods, their in-patient programs fail too often. The Blake family spent over $110,000 in premium rehab programs only for their son to die of an overdose at 27. They, like many families, were duped into believing that if they spent all they could on fancy therapies they could save their son’s life. Why are even the best in-patient programs still so unsuccessful? It is because staying clean in a wonderful, accommodating facility is very different from staying clean in day to day life. Most rehab programs offer little, if any, follow up for their patients. They take their money and send them back out into the world ill-prepared and poorer than they were before.

The Blakes with their son at his High School graduation

Now, addicts have other tools to help thanks to the power of AI and machine learning. A number of scientists and addiction experts have invented applications that offer personalized, effective addiction help. Sam Frons is a former addict who was unsatisfied by rehab programs and support groups like AA. That’s why she created Addicaid, an AI powered app that tracks behavior and location to identify when a user will be more susceptible to relapse and offer them support. Addicaid has won top recognition and investments from business and health leaders.

Sam Frons, founder of Addicaid

A group of researchers created a similar program, called Addiction CHESS, helps users avoid dangerous locations and find the best supports groups. Their peer reviewed research found that Addiction CHESS cut the risk of relapse in half compared to patients who received only traditional rehab methods. Another group of researchers at USC created an AI-backed program that creates support groups for teen patients that are more effective. Many support groups accidentally introduce lighter users to more serious addicts and heavier drugs. USC has also developed a similar algorithm that uses AI to help prevent teen suicide. AI has proven itself a better form of addiction recovery than traditional rehab alone.

Of course, some people do benefit from traditional rehab, the same way that even price-gouging pharmacies can provide useful medicines. However, the evidence is clear that inexpensive algorithms can offer more help than hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-patient care. If you or a loved one is considering enrolling in a rehab program, make sure to find one that offers quality, cost-effective, individualized care. And don’t forget to use these other AI tools to keep you and your loved ones on the path to recovery. If you are an investor looking to make good returns on the rehab market, invest in AI tools. They are growing fast, more effective, and will soon become one of the primary rehabilitation methods. Whether we are looking to save money or save a life, AI has got our back.


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