An update to an app meant to curb opioid addiction connects users with resources such as treatment locators and the ability to call Colorado Crisis Services for access to a counselor.
OpiSafe originally created the OpiRescue app in 2015 to help people understand what to do if a family member or friend overdoses on opioids.
The update, funded by the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), is meant to fight against opioid-related deaths, according to Robert Werthwein, director of OBH.
"The updated app will not only help prevent overdose deaths, it will also help people work toward recovery by accessing treatment and support," Werthwein said.
Werthwein said there are 851 providers on the app who can provide medication and treatment.
“Medication-assisted treatment is done by a physicians, someone with a medical degree or advanced nurse practitioner,” Werthwein said.
He said it was important to make sure rural Colorado was covered as well, so the app includes providers across Colorado.
“There is a magnifying glass in the corner ... if you want to look for relatives in another part of the state," Werthwein said.
The app lists the providers, how far they are from a person’s current location and what kinds of insurance and payments they accept.
It's meant to help address an on-going issue to help people find treatment they can actually access.
Dr. Rob Valuck, a drug addiction expert, whose company helped create this app, said a user's privacy will be protected.
"The app doesn't collect any information from them or share their information with anybody," said Dr. Valuck, " It's one way kind of thing."
Dr. Valuck said the only information records is when naloxone, which is considered an antidote to an opioid overdose, is used. Dr. Valuck said it doesn't record who administered the naloxone or who received it but just the nearest intersection it was administered to track how many people it helped save.
The app doesn't track someone's treatment after they started.
It does however highlight another issue. The state continues to work to get more medical professionals trained to treat people addicted to drugs because there are still parts of Colorado where trained help may still be too far away.
The state did received a federal grant to launch mobile clinics in rural Colorado in around a year. Dr. Werthwein said along the way the Office of Behavioral Health also hopes to connect with more doctors and nurses who want to train to help with addiction treatment.
Dr. Valuck said sometimes that can be challenge because of stigma. Medical professionals also have to set aside time for training and may also have to work with the state and federal government, including getting waivers before they can start administering certain treatments like methadone.
OpiRescue is available for free in the iOS and Android app stores. More information can be found here: opirescue.com
OpiRescue has more than 10,000 downloads, and Colorado users have reported 592 overdose reversals since the app launched.
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