A drug addiction specialist based in Delray Beach, Florida recently created and launched Sobercoin, an innovative digital currency that uses blockchain technology to incentivize individuals with substance use disorders to enter treatment or remain sober.
The person behind Sobercoin is Dr. Harold Jonas, Ph.D., LMHC, and a licensed therapist who has been well-known throughout the U.S. as a pioneer in the field of technology and drug addiction recovery services.
Jonas explained that he’s been envisioning cryptocurrencies as channels that can significantly improve drug addiction treatment practices and personal experiences.
“This is about accountability,” he said. “As I watched the advances of digital currencies such as bitcoin that occurred last year, I thought that there had to be a way to harness to blockchain technology and use it to help people and really make an impact. Because that’s what the goal is, to help people move ahead and improve the quality of their lives.”
Sobercoin is essentially rewarding individuals in recovery because, Jonas stated, he has personally seen how much addiction treatment patients can benefit from external incentives.
“We know that, universally, people respond to two things,” he said. “They respond to pleasure — which comes from activities that reward them with dopamine floods, like sex or winning a game — or they respond to money. And since we can’t access people’s pleasure receptors to reward them, we can do it with money or rewards.”
Jonas has been credited with the development of Anglestrong, a mobile app that was launched last year in partnership with the pro wrestler Kurt Angle to prevent relapses to drug abuse. Furthermore, he is the founder and CEO of the Sober Network, which is comprised of different digital properties and platforms of the drug addiction recovery industry such as Sobersystems.
Sobercoin has been integrated into these platforms and when people use or sign up to be part of select services provided by Jonas’ networks, they get to earn the currency.
“Our goal is to use Sobercoin as a reward mechanism for compliance, reporting, building a community, referring people into the community and to get them responding with information that we can use for data collection and improving the quality of care not just for the individuals but with communities or different demographics.”
People may get a coin after they use a Sobersystems app like Anglestrong to check in and report that they have been sober for 30 days. The coins can then be used in different ways including membership fees for services provides by Jonas’ networks, online addiction recovery coaching, and training courses.
Jonas’s team has future plans to allow the public to spend the currency on other services such as drug detox, sober housing, tele-counseling, and professional assessments as well as medications.
However, he highlighted, the adoption rate for technologies within the addiction treatment industry has been and continues to be very slow. Thus, Jonas is currently keeping the digital currency exchangeable for services of his own network while he tests the market.
“The industry is really set in its own ways in a lot of areas,” he added. “Innovation is still talked about but not adopted. This is why is this is a prototype model that we want to make sure works before we go to the next level with it.”