Our work seeks to apply the social and technical expertise of the HCI community in technology-supported behavior change towards supporting people’s recovery from substance abuse. Personal informatics tools have been shown to be effective and engaging for people starting new behaviors and maintaining long-term habits in similar contexts, such as smoking cessation (Paaye et al 2015). Specialized behavioral self-tracking tools could potentially be incredibly impactful in the process of recovery from substance abuse.
Insights from prior qualitative work in our research group and in the addiction research community has established that specialized self-tracking tools would be useful and desirable for this population (e.g. Yarosh, 2013). Therefore, we are currently investigating how people employ digital self-tracking tools, in concert with traditional treatment and supplemental maintenance programs, to support their own recovery efforts.
For this study, we are building a wearable PI system, Powertoken, to help promote accountability and awareness on progress towards self-defined recovery behavior goals. Powertoken provides aspirational and maintenance goal-setting (via a mobile app), automatic location-based activity tracking (app), meaningful data aggregation (via backend server), and ambient awareness of progress and goal attainment (via a wearable tracker). Rather than creating a custom wearable, we use “piggyback prototyping” to leverage the Fitbit technical infrastructure for our wearable tracker, leveraging the robust hardware and API to create a high-fidelity prototype suitable for field deployment. We are also partnering with an well-designed routine-tracking platform for people in recovery, WeConnect Recovery.