STAT

Can a phone app’s warnings to avoid risky friends and places prevent opioid addiction relapses?

A new mobile app monitors a user’s contacts and location, and sends alerts to caution them about acquaintances or neighborhoods that might threaten their recovery from an opioid addiction.

You’re in recovery from opioid addiction, and your walk to work takes you down the same streets where you used to buy heroin. The drug’s calling to you, still. Just then, your phone buzzes, with a message that reads like a text from an old friend:

“Hey, I know you’re near a risky area. You can do this.”

It’s from Hey,Charlie, an app — conceived at a 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology health hackathon — that aims to help people avoid environmental triggers that might threaten their recovery from an opioid addiction. The app, now being piloted by several treatment centers in Boston and Framingham, Mass., monitors a user’s contacts and location, and sends pop-up notifications to caution them about risky acquaintances or neighborhoods.

“People and places can remind you of using drugs and stress you out,” leading people

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