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High School Teens Develop Addiction Recovery App

Two teen girls sitting and using their cell phones  

Two New Albany High School students have created an app to help teens who are dealing with addiction. Juniors Meghana Karthic and Rita Kret have been designing the app since their freshman year. The teens are developing the addiction recovery app for Technovation, a worldwide nonprofit that empowers girls to use technology to solve problems in their communities.

Karthic and Kret were inspired to create their app in February 2017 when they learned that a Dayton morgue didn’t have enough space for bodies due to the number of deaths from opioid overdoses.

Since then, Karthic and Kret have twice participated in an annual contest held by Technovation. The contest teaches girls how to design apps and then apply that knowledge to solve problems. Last year, their app reached the competition’s semifinalist level.

The Opioid Epidemic

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. The problem began in the late 1990s when pharmaceutical companies began aggressively marketing opioid pain medications, telling doctors their patients wouldn’t become addicted. The issue grew since then, and an estimated 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids in 2018 alone. In 2019, two million people met the criteria for an opioid use disorder, and 47,600 people died from an opioid overdose.

The opioid epidemic in Ohio has been especially difficult to manage. The state has the second-highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the country. Ohio death rate is over twice the national average: 39.2 per 100,000 persons, compared to 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons nationwide.

Teens and Opioids

Opioid use in teens is a problem throughout the country. Of the 47,600 opioid overdose deaths that occurred in 2019, 9% were in people under the age of 25. A University of Southern California study found that of 3,300 surveyed students, 596 reported using prescription opioids to get high during their first 3 ½ years of high school. More than 13% of current prescription opioid users went on to use heroin by the end of high school, as did 10.7% of previous prescription opioid users.

A New App to Aid in Recovery

Karthic and Kret’s app encourages users to take control of their own health through a gamification approach: users earn points by using the resources provided through the app. The platform includes:

  • A medication tracker
  • A journal feature
  • A guided breathing practice
  • Contact functions for 911 and national helplines
  • The user’s emergency contacts’ information
  • A map showing recovery centers certified by the Emerald Jenny Foundation (a group connects Ohioans with opioid addiction treatment and addiction recovery resources)

Karthic and Kret have partnered with patients and health care professionals to get feedback on the app. In their freshman year, they spoke to Dr. Steve Matson, the director of the Opiate Addiction Clinic at Nationwide Children’s hospital, about ways they could tailor the app to help people struggling with addiction.

The high school students hope to continue building on the platform through patient feedback. In the future, they hope to develop a chat feature so users can talk to one another. They also plan to include a medication notification system.

If you would like to find addiction treatment help for your teen, contact Next Generation Village. We offer customized and evidence-based treatment for teens struggling with different types of addiction.

Sources:

Sole, Sarah. “Pair of New Albany High School students develop addiction-recovery app.” This Week Community News, September 27, 2019. Accessed November 6, 2019.

Hopper, Leigh. “Teens who abuse opioids are more likely to later use heroin USC study shows.” USC, July 8, 2019. Accessed November 6, 2019.

HHS. “What is the U.S. opioid epidemic?” September 4, 2019. Accessed November 6, 2019.

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