New smart-phone app assists heroin recovery

MARQUETTE — Smack – skag – junk – all of these are street names for heroin. Just like there are different names, there are also different ways to overcome addiction to the drug including a new smart–phone app.

Officials from the Michigan state police say that heroin use is on the rise in the U–P. According to the Foundation for a Drug Free World, heroin is highly addictive and since it is usually injected with a syringe or needle it poses other health risks, like contracting and spreading other diseases. State Police have been hosting informal, information sessions lately in the community to spread awareness about heroin – like it’s different names and how someone may start using the drug.

Michigan State Police Community Service Trooper Geno Basanese says, “Someone that is possibly taking pain killers, and then all of a sudden doesn’t have anymore pain killers, can’t get anymore pain killers – we’ve seen where they’ve turned to heroin just because it’s very cheap, and it’s out there and it’s available.”

Enter a Psychology Intern from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, Brandi Spaulding, who created a smart phone app to assist recovering heroin addicts. The app allows the person in recovery to connect instantly with their support group – up to 10 people – should they feel an urge to use again. They could also read success stories from others across the country and even share their own.

Brandi Spaulding says, “It has many, many purposes. One of the other features is that it checks in with them on a daily basis, you know several times a day, however they have it set up, so that whoever is in their recovery circle and then their counselor, as well, gets the information and knows on a moment–to–moment basis on how they’re doing.”

Once someone registers in the app they can plug in the phone numbers for each person in their support group and their counselor’s e–mail.

“You know obviously treatment would be the number one,” Trooper Basanese added, “Get them to treatment so they can get off of heroin and if that’s something where this app can help – great.”

The app is a tool to assist recovery and is not meant to replace counseling or other recovery programs. Currently the app is only offered for Android, but Spaulding says they are in the process of creating an app for iPhones.

For more information about Squirrel recovery: Addiction click here.