Latest developments in causes and treatments



Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve Addiction Treatment

A team of researchers at Dartmouth University has pioneered a project to combine artificial intelligence (AI) with social media (in this case, Reddit) to improve addiction treatment

The way it works is researchers create a framework, use it to analyze a data set, and then have human domain experts evaluate the results. The process is repeated until the framework generates essentially identical results as the domain experts.

In an article for Dartmouth News about the research, Harini Barath describes the AI’s function:

The analyses sift through peer exchanges to reveal challenges in adhering to treatment regimens and mechanisms that recovering patients employ to cope with side effects and relapses. They also reveal false and potentially harmful information, including misinformation that is propagated via such channels.

The AI was able to learn about side effects and drug interactions by scanning thousands of anonymous posts. The AI identified strategies people used regarding medications, such as drug substitutions or microdosing. This information can be channeled back to physicians who are treating drug dependencies.

Tech support bots have been used by tech giants for some time now. They scan user forums looking for bugs that can be fixed and post up-to-the-minute answers on the best way to handle known problems. AI is used in chatbot customer support systems from IBM’s Watson. Also, AI is increasingly integrated with help desk apps.

The concept that a trove of anonymous data can be used to train AI frameworks to spot missed opportunities and novel approaches in treating drug dependencies and co-dependencies could help revitalize, customize, and personalize addiction treatment protocols.

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published March, 2024.


“AI Tools Reveal Knowledge Gaps in Addiction Treatment,” Dartmouth News, February 22, 2024.

“Can I use forum posts to train an AI?” Reddit r/legaladvice, 2022.

“How Students Use AI to Design Solutions for Their Community,” EdSurge, April 24, 2023.

Image Copyright: DeviantArt. Used under Creative Commons license.


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