Startups focus on prevention
Prevention tools have been one of the focuses in solving the epidemic. Social venture startup The Edification Project is among those working on prevention tools. The team plans to bring virtual reality into schools to help teach children and teens about the dangers of addiction — think in-school programs like D.A.R.E but with virtual reality and a different methodology.
The project is still in its infancy and the startup is figuring out what the experience will look like. One idea the team has is for students to use the technolgoy to virtually make decision and that leads them to a certain outcome, said founder David Murray. For example, the experience may put teens in a virtual house party situation where they can either choose to virtually try drugs or not. Then the experience will lead them in a new direction based on that choice. “It is almost like the ghost of Christmas future,” Murray said.
In its first phase the startup plans to pilot and test a theory-driven, evidence-based prevention program teaching students how to handle situations where they may have to say no to drugs.
The Edification project was selected as part of the PULSE MassChallenge class of 2018, which gives digital health startups access to free office space, partnerships, $200,000 in prize money and $50,000 in need-based scholarships.