Inspiration

The opioid crisis cannot and should not be ignored. Every day, roughly 115 Americans overdose on opioids and over 50,000 people last year alone, more than the number of car crashes across our country. Just two weeks ago, President Trump announced a war on the substances and aimed to enact a full-force treatment program in several of the most affected states. This hits home for us; several USC alums and past addicts have spoken out on campus, emphasizing their incredibly difficult road to recovery. A quote that has stayed with us: “It feels like an isolated psychological prison..."

We feel, as engineers with the technical capacity to make a difference, that it is our responsibility to make a difference in this field.

What it does

Current treatment methods for opioid addiction are widespread but largely ineffective. Contingency management one such treatment, and aims to provide counseling services and reward system involving voucher-based reinforcement or prize incentives to patients. However, this is incredibly expensive - around $200 per client - and doesn't get to the root of the problem. Motivational interviewing, a slightly better alternative, aims to evoke a client’s own positive drive to recover through affirmations, reflective listening, and summaries. Unfortunately, varying qualities of therapists and corresponding costs make this a difficult treatment to vouch for. The third method, and our approach, is cognitive behavior therapy. It aims to help the client understand the context of their desires and what next steps to take.

Stronger is an app that builds on this idea - it exists to help recovering opioid addicts at the moment of their withdrawals and urge to use again. It immediately offers emergency methods to help the addict recollect their thoughts and ensures that they are not alone. Three main options come to view: calling a friend, seeing motivational words from former addicts, and personal inspiration written in times of clarity. Each plays a unique roll in showing the addict that they themselves can overcome this, and they have all the resources they need in the palm of their hand with Stronger.

To emphasize seeing progress over time, we have incorporated calendar streaks for sobriety as well as achievements based on those streaks. A time capsule option allows for daily check-ins and brings the addict into the context of his or her urges: who, what, when, where, and why. These approaches have been backed by empirical evidence and we hope it gives a sense of comfort and safety for addicts in these situations.

How we built it

We built this app using Swift 4, Core Data, Firebase, and Google Cloud's Speech API. The IDE of choice was Xcode.

Challenges we ran into

We worked for a while on including the Google Cloud Speech API and had some issues with audio file formatting. We also overcame some obstacles with rendering animations real-time. Working with the calendar and incorporating the calendar data into streaks and writing it to Core Data was also a major challenge.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We spent a lot of time thinking about this course and brainstorming how our app could provide something different than other apps for drug users. We truly think our app offers something different. We're also proud of the sleek UI, simplicity and easy to use functionalities.

What we learned

We learned about the personal experience of patients with substance use disorder. In building the app, we learned about the Google Cloud's Speech API and Firebase, recording and saving audio files, and animations.

What's next for Stronger

We'd like to add in more visualization and summarization of your history of drug use. This could then be easily shared with a patient's drug counselor and help the patient get a better idea of what situations, environments, or mindsets trigger them.

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