While more and more people are finding they are needing oxycodone treatment, with many people in south Florida seeking relief and heroin drug treatment in Broward, some individuals with good intentions are offering technological solutions to assist in the battle of addiction that killed more people from overdose in 2018 than car accidents. Removing any kind of ulterior profit motive out of the picture, which has also started creeping into the growing epidemic that is largely due to inefficient government policy ill equipped to deal with the problem, some have started introducing technological solutions with earnest hopes in helping people. The problem is, however, that the help is largely tone-def in many ways, with a distinct limitation on reach.
Poverty and addiction are two conditions which affect many, with poverty going into what one might call ‘extreme poverty’, more commonly called ‘homelessness.’ People who live on the streets, sleeping under bridges or finding a place in encampments where they can dodge police easier for vagrancy aren’t exactly ‘hip’ to technology. They often won’t have a cell phone, and if they do, it’s a burner with highly limited access and usually underpowered to handle much of the online software that is offered.
Take for instance, Brian Mcalister’s app that was recently introduced, which offers a substantial support network, data tracking of many aspects of a person’s relapse triggers, encourages expressing anxiety and depression in journals as a coping mechanism, and more. It’s very well thought out. But it misses the broad target of that addiction doesn’t; addiction doesn’t care about income or technology and will hurt anyone, anywhere and for any reason. One quick Google search of Kensington’s addiction population will reveal that a large number of people afflicted in the community don’t even have a place to get out of the cold or the rain, which makes having a phone look as out of reach as being a number one box office draw in Hollywood.
There’s nothing wrong with these things, however, but even taking Brian’s app and removing the access, the service fee itself is over $250 a year. Anyone who has ever lived paycheck to paycheck, nevermind homelessness, will tell you every purchase they make is measured in bags of ramen. It only serves a portion of the well-to-do community that hasn’t lost everything yet or weren’t born into a house that was broken before they were even conceived. Technology is still a luxury to many people, with over half of the world still having no internet access whatsoever, which the app heavily relies on.
It’s not that there’s an ill intent for any of these solutions, it’s that the approach is ignorant to the larger issues that surround substance use disorders and more importantly who it actually affects. It’s not a disease of the middle class, it’s a disease of everyone because addiction doesn’t care who you are and especially doesn’t care if you own a cell phone or not.