Can “addiction tech” curb an escalating crisis?

The tragedy that is the U.S. opioid epidemic existed well before the pandemic exacerbated the crisis. A variety of digital health startups have emerged to address substance use disorders (SUDs)—according to Rock Health’s venture funding database, 82 U.S.-based startups targeting SUDs have collectively raised $2.7B. Almost half of that amount was raised in 2021 alone. Some are new entrants into “addiction tech”—last week, Cerebral announced their own opioid use disorder program, building off their existing digital mental health platform. Treating SUDs through digital health solutions offers expanded access and the chance to get discreet support. But questions remain about validated clinical efficacy and the potential for problematic business models. We’re hopeful these organizations can—in partnership with public health, providers, and communities that have long served these populations—find answers to these questions and alleviate the toll that addiction has on so many.


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