imatter mhealth application to support opioid recovery

Over 2 million Americans struggle with opioid addictions, costing the US $78.5 billion a year for healthcare, lost productivity, and addiction treatments. The rates of Opioid Use Disorder, or OUD, is not only increasing overall, but is also increasing among pregnant women. Between 1999 and 2014, the rate for OUD for women at delivery quadrupled, with it currently at 6.5 per 1,000 deliveries. Use of opioids during pregnancy puts the baby at risk for a withdrawal syndrome known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS. In the long term, NAS can cause health complications for a child, including cognitive and behavioral issues. One way to reduce the rates of NAS is to start with the mothers, enrolling them in a treatment program early on in their pregnancy to help them get clean. Currently, even though plenty of these women begin OUD treatment, the rates of relapse are relatively high, with it currently at 56% for women who are 6 months postpartum. Our client, Dr. Emery Eaves is a medical anthropologist here at NAU whose research focuses on the opioid epidemic among pregnant women. Dr. Eaves is specifically interested in studying women who struggle with accessing or completing traditional treatment programs. Through support groups and housing programs in Phoenix, Dr. Eaves finds recovering pregnant women to interview to better understand their situations and find out what kind of support could improve their recovery process. Through her research, Dr. Eaves has found that three major obstacles that contribute to high relapse rates in traditional treatment programs are: The number of appointments and obligations these women have, lack of social support, and lack of information access. Dr. Eaves aims to find a way to alleviate some of these challenges to help lower the rates of relapse and increase the number of successful recoveries for pregnant women with opioid use disorder. Together with Dr. Eaves, we have envisioned a solution to help her achieve this goal.

Our Proposed Solution

For our solution, we propose a safe, secure and completely anonymous application, called iMATter, (MAT standing for medication assisted treatment) that will take treatment out of the physical space and into the mobile, and provide care anytime anywhere. Some of the features include a chat room, a learning center, a secure login, and an information desk. How can our application help with these problems? We want to help solve these problems with a mobile application that can assist these women with learning about their pregnancy and receiving general support, without them having to worry about long periods of travel time or facing the stigma of being seen as only an addict, instead of a pregnant woman that is trying to change and actively learn.


Bianca Altman
Jennie Dallas
Victoria Leafgren
Isai Martinez
Cindy Valentin


  • Dr. Emery R. Eaves, PhD

  • Department of Anthropology

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