The March of the Addict

Baltimore uses PDAs to pinpoint where recovering drug users decide to relapse

march-of-the-addict

Stuart Bradford / www.theispot.com/sbradford

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Researchers in Baltimore are studying drug use and addiction in their city by arming recovering drug users with PDAs, according to a story on Urbanite’s website (March 1, 2011). “I had this idea,” says Kenzie Preston, the lead investigator, “that when people were using drugs they had certain patterns of places they went, and when they stopped as part of treatment, that pattern would change.”  

The addicts enter information into their handheld devices when they get an urge to use drugs again, including those psychological factors that might lead to relapse, such as stress. The researchers track the participants through GPS within the PDAs, and those geographic patterns are plotted on maps of the city that contain other data, such as race and the socioeconomic status of different neighborhoods.  

“We are getting a good description of what drug use looks like in individuals in real time and how it maps onto physical space,” says one of the researchers, David Epstein. He and his colleagues argue that figuring out where a person is when he decides to use drugs is more important than knowing where he is when he actually uses them, because the former is the time and place to intervene.

cover-166-thumbnailHave something to say? Send a letter to editor@utne.com. This article first appeared in the July-August 2011 issue of Utne Reader

steve eatenson
7/6/2011 12:25:28 PM

OK, so a drug user or alcoholic, (also a drug user), decides to use when his wife/husband or other family member upsets him/her. So how do you intervene? Who is going to intervene if not the substance user himself/herself? A drug user gets upset by the way his/her boss treats him/her and decides to use. Who's going to intervene? The drug user is at the vet's and has to have his dog put to sleep and decides he's going to stop and by a bottle or a fix on the way home to deal with his feelings of agony and loss. Whose going to intervene? Hello! It's a brain disease characterized by loss of control. The next time you have terrible diarrhea try to just say no. Try to figure out how to have someone else intervene on your behalf and stop you. This kind of lack of understanding about addiction wastes huge sums of grant money and accomplishes nothing but paying researchers to chase their tails. The people who would note a time and place on their PDA's would probably not have used anyway. The ones who would go use, would go use and not bother with their PDA's until later and then their reliability as self reporters would be in question.


steve eatenson
7/6/2011 12:23:17 PM

OK, so a drug user or alcoholic, (also a drug user), decides to use when his wife/husband or other family member upsets him/her. So how do you intervene? Who is going to intervene if not the substance user himself/herself? A drug user gets upset by the way his/her boss treats him/her and decides to use. Who's going to intervene? The drug user is at the vet's and has to have his dog put to sleep and decides he's going to stop and by a bottle or a fix on the way home to deal with his feelings of agony and loss. Whose going to intervene? Hello! It's a brain disease characterized by loss of control. The next time you have terrible diarrhea try to just say no. Try to figure out how to have someone else intervene on your behalf and stop you. This kind of lack of understanding about addiction wastes huge sums of grant money and accomplishes nothing but paying researchers to chase their tails. The people who would note a time and place on their PDA's would probably not have used anyway. The ones who would go use, would go use and not bother with their PDA's until later and then their reliability as self reporters would be in question.


steve eatenson
7/6/2011 12:22:05 PM

OK, so a drug user or alcoholic, (also a drug user), decides to use when his wife/husband or other family member upsets him/her. So how do you intervene? Who is going to intervene if not the substance user himself/herself? A drug user gets upset by the way his/her boss treats him/her and decides to use. Who's going to intervene? The drug user is at the vet's and has to have his dog put to sleep and decides he's going to stop and by a bottle or a fix on the way home to deal with his feelings of agony and loss. Whose going to intervene? Hello! It's a brain disease characterized by loss of control. The next time you have terrible diarrhea try to just say no. Try to figure out how to have someone else intervene on your behalf and stop you. This kind of lack of understanding about addiction wastes huge sums of grant money and accomplishes nothing but paying researchers to chase their tails. The people who would note a time and place on their PDA's would probably not have used anyway. The ones who would go use, would go use and not bother with their PDA's until later and then their reliability as self reporters would be in question.


steve eatenson
7/6/2011 12:20:22 PM

OK, so a drug user or alcoholic, (also a drug user), decides to use when his wife/husband or other family member upsets him/her. So how do you intervene? Who is going to intervene if not the substance user himself/herself? A drug user gets upset by the way his/her boss treats him/her and decides to use. Who's going to intervene? The drug user is at the vet's and has to have his dog put to sleep and decides he's going to stop and by a bottle or a fix on the way home to deal with his feelings of agony and loss. Whose going to intervene? Hello! It's a brain disease characterized by loss of control. The next time you have terrible diarrhea try to just say no. Try to figure out how to have someone else intervene on your behalf and stop you. This kind of lack of understanding about addiction wastes huge sums of grant money and accomplishes nothing but paying researchers to chase their tails.


steve eatenson
7/6/2011 12:17:55 PM

OK, so a drug user or alcoholic, (also a drug user), decides to use when his wife/husband or other family member upsets him/her. So how do you intervene? Who is going to intervene if not the substance user himself/herself? A drug user gets upset by the way his/her boss treats him/her and decides to use. Who's going to intervene? The drug user is at the vet's and has to have his dog put to sleep and decides he's going to stop and by a bottle or a fix on the way home to deal with his feelings of agony and loss. Whose going to intervene? Hello! It's a brain disease characterized by loss of control. The next time you have terrible diarrhea try to just say no. Try to figure out how to have someone else intervene on your behalf and stop you. This kind of lack of understanding about addiction wastes huge sums of grant money and accomplishes nothing but paying researchers to chase their tails.


steve eatenson
7/6/2011 12:14:44 PM

OK, so a drug user or alcoholic, (also a drug), decides to use when his wife/husband or other family member upsets him/her. So how do you intervene? Who is going to intervene if not the substance user himself/herself? A drug user gets upset by the way his/her boss treats him/her and decides to use. Who's going to intervene? The drug user is at the vet's and has to have his dog put to sleep and decides he's going to stop and by a bottle or a fix on the way home to deal with his feelings of agony and loss. Whose going to intervene? Hello! It's a brain disease characterized by loss of control. The next time you have terrible diarrhea try to just say no. Try to figure out how to have someone else intervene on your behalf and stop you. This kind of lack of understanding about addiction wastes huge sums of grant money and accomplishes nothing but paying researchers to chase their tails.