Improve relapse rates for addicts
Mobile application to allow recovering addicts to stay closely in touch with their sponsor and sober friends after rehab and get access to key positive resources to stay motivated.
Somewhere between 50%-90% of drug and alcohol addicts who attend rehab relapse at some point.
Attempts at tech interventions (mobile apps, web tools, SMS reminders) tend to come from large associations or non-profits, and my team thought that the user experience was pretty shoddy on them all. And, anecdotally, none were terribly effective. Most employ recovery strategies like the “Big Book”, “12 and 12”, daily reflections, AA meeting finders, and day counters.
But few solutions seemed to focus on relationships – even the non-tech ones. Studies showed that relapse rates decreased when interventions facilitated conversations between users at similar stages in their recovery cycles.
We did a lot of competitive research at the onset. What apps are out there? What techniques are they employing?
Then we leveraged my client's network. Due to personal experiences, he had interacted with lots of recovering addicts, and we were able to leverage them for intercept interview and small focus groups -- as well as prototyping work -- as we iterated on the user experience and core service offering.
After a few iterations, we opted to focus on 3 major things:
1) Positivity: From the design (lighter colors and a bias towards “cuter” animations”) to some of the features (allow friends to input supportive comments when users enroll to show when users are near bars or selected problem areas), positivity was key.
2) Accountability: Users see daily progress against goals and are consistently asked to opt in to recovery-related tasks.
3) External integrations: Friends and family were enrolled with users so that supporters could be notified if the user stopped hitting benchmarks.
My client is now working with a large provider to integrate the service and application into their broader service offering.