For those struggling with addiction, finding structure and routine are key steps on the road to sobriety. But often, necessary recovery programs are too expensive or out of reach for those seeking help.
Fortunately, two engineering students are blending their technology background with leading mental health practices to bring structure to more people coping with alcohol dependency.
Vedant Pradeep and Ziyi Gao, who met as students at Georgia Tech, have worked together on several ideas at the intersection of technology and medical care, including tools for hypoglycemia monitoring and OCD.
But after talking with psychiatrists and mental health professionals, the team realized not only were those suffering from alcohol abuse an underserved population, those individuals lacked the tools to stop drinking on their own.
After several pivots based on experiences with active recovery centers, Digital Sponsor launched as a consumer-facing app designed to give structured, evidence-based coaching to those struggling to control their relationship with alcohol.
Combining techniques such as journaling, progress tracking, built-in games, and mindfulness exercises in one space, users go through a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program designed by mental health professionals from the privacy of their own homes.
For Pradeep, Digital Sponsor helps eliminate the cost, stigma, and uncertainty around seeking help. Those most in need do not have to worry about bearing the cost of a traditional recovery program in order to begin their journey to sobriety.
“When it comes to cravings, it typically only lasts for twenty minutes, but people never feel that way. It almost feels like it will last forever,” Pradeep told Hypepotamus. The app gives users a variety of tools to handle such cravings and begin forming healthier habits. It even helps track money saved from giving up alcohol, something Pradeep says can be a powerful motivator for some users.
While the app is designed to help an individual through his or her sobriety journey, it may also address critical community health gaps.
“Today, we face a shortage of trained mental health professionals, especially in the addictions field. By leveraging technology, we are better able to serve those with substance abuse needs by having a ready-available intervention with the necessary support resources embedded in an app,” Dr. Frank Brown, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality Officer at Emory Decatur Hospital and advisor to Digital Sponsor, told Hypepotamus.
Pradeep and Gao built Digital Sponsor with leaders from Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, and Georgia Tech. In fact, their advisory board reads like a ‘who’s who’ list of medical and mental health professionals.
As Digital Sponsor continues to grow its user base through subscriptions in the app store, the team is focusing on creating more key partnerships with recovery centers and alcohol recovery organizations.
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