How Artificial Intelligence is Tackling the Opioid Crisis

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over, and you’re probably using it every day and don’t even know it. Did you ask Alexa or Siri a question today? Did Google suggest a cool new restaurant based on past searches? That’s AI at work. So, what is AI exactly? 

Artificial intelligence refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. One of the more popular subsets of AI is Machine Learning (ML). ML provides computers with the ability to learn without being directly programmed. It uses data analytics to teach computers to do what comes naturally to humans – to learn from experience and improve it each time. So how are researchers using ML to help fight the opioid crisis?

AI and The Opioid Epidemic

In 2016, prescription opioid drugs contributed to 40 percent of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths, and in 2018, more than 115 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids (National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA). What healthcare professionals have noticed during this epidemic is that the length of time someone has been using opioids, the dosage, and type of opioid prescribed (synthetic versus other classes) may all influence an individual’s risk of misuse and addiction. 

To better understand these outcomes, researchers are focusing on developing tools and technology to analyze these risk factors in order to improve opioid prescribing practices and patient safety in healthcare settings. More specifically, scientists at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab are bringing the power of machine learning to tackle this challenge. They are applying ML techniques to “connect the dots among diagnoses, prescription quantities/durations, medical histories, and behaviors associated with addiction as recorded in healthcare insurance claims.” Their goal is to develop a precision medicine model that can infer the causal effect of opioid usage on individuals, discover patterns that could guide opioid prescription practices, and mitigate the opioid epidemic.

Opioid Addiction and Treatment

Even with technological advances making strides in the opioid crisis, addiction to prescription opioids is still a national epidemic. However, there is hope. Through addiction recovery, you can stop using opiates and maintain sobriety. If you suspect that you or someone you know has an opioid addiction, it’s vital to take action. While there is no cure for addiction, it is treatable, and recovery is possible. Make the life-saving decision to get help today – contact Daylight Recovery Services at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.