New Biosensor Might Offer Help for Coloradoans with Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder treatment helps people stop using alcohol and become abstinent when their use is too heavy or causes problems in their lives like relationship challenges, DUI charges for driving under the influence, or even a car crash that injures themselves or others.

Being in recovery usually means remaining abstinent indefinitely, since moderation likely did not work if or when it was tried. However, the temptation to drink can be a constant struggle for those in recovery from alcohol abuse, especially if friends or family members continue to drink. For reasons of accountability, it may be necessary to show definitively that no alcohol has been consumed and that you have maintained your recovery over a period of time.

A Biological Solution

USC San Diego has come up with a design for an injectable skin sensor that can monitor whether any alcohol has been used and how much the person has had. This type of continuous monitoring is not currently possible and may be able to replace periodic breathalyzer or blood tests as a way to see if abstinence is being maintained.

The skin sensor is in development for use in addiction treatment and aftercare, and it is meant to be placed below the surface of the skin to detect the alcohol level present. The device is powered wirelessly by a smartwatch or patch, so it can work continuously.

“The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a routine, unobtrusive alcohol and drug monitoring device for patients in substance abuse treatment programs,” project leader and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Drew Hall said in a university news release.

Table with handcuffs and glass of alcohol.

There are important reasons why it can be important to show that you have not been drinking.

A Solution With Potential

While the device is still in the testing phase with live testing as the next step, its creators also plan to use the technology to detect drugs as well as alcohol and to make a combination product that can detect the presence of multiple drugs and alcohol in someone’s system for a comprehensive way to monitor addictive substances they might take in the case of relapse.

A device like this can be part of an abstinence program for those who want to demonstrate to the authorities, to a skeptical spouse, or to treatment professionals that they have maintained their abstinence and not relapsed. Much like having to blow into a breathalyzer before starting a car, these devices can also be used as a check on behaviors that may interfere with long-term recovery.

Devices will work best in combination with treatment programs that are comprehensive in nature and gain the cooperation of the person in treatment. Not only will they ensure authorities that relapse has not occurred, but they could also reassure loved ones as well and begin to rebuild the trust that may have been broken.

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado alcohol rehab that offers comprehensive treatment services to help those with alcohol use disorder overcome the disease and become sober. Contact us today to discuss treatment options.