Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids (according to the NID and CDC). One of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic is Ohio, which had the second highest rate of deaths due to opioid drug overdose in 2017. For Rita and Meghana in New Albany, Ohio, those numbers carry a very real weight – one that motivated them to do something about the epidemic sweeping their state.

Rita explains that she and Meghana were inspired to help combat opioid addiction after hearing a news report about a morgue in Dayton running out of space to store bodies due to the rapidly increasing number of people dying from opioid overdoses. So they got to work, and together developed Novo, an app designed for users recovering from opioid use disorder.

Novo: An opioid addiction recovery app to help users begin anew

The app features mindfulness tools, like a journal and meditation exercises, as well as recovery tools that help users track their medication and provide fast access to recovery hotlines and personalized contacts for moments of crisis. Rita and Meghana developed the app while participating in Technovation Girls, and as part of their design process, they connected with patients and healthcare professionals in their community for their feedback. The girls also met with an 18-year old undergoing treatment for addiction to ask for his direct feedback. That connection drove home the immensity of the opioid epidemic for the girls. “That could easily have been us in his place” said Rita, and when explaining their motivation to This Week News, Meghana emphasizes that “opioid abuse can affect anyone.”

Rita and Meghana plan to continue working on the app, specifically citing their hope to receive more feedback from people recovering from opioid abuse and addiction to make the app as useful as possible. Explaining why they chose the name Novo, Rita said “[it’s] latin word that means to “start anew” – and reflects our belief that anyone can have a second chance at a healthy life.”

Rita and Meghana decided to tackle a large, complicated problem facing their community, and in doing so learned a lot more about that community and the pervasiveness of the problem they wanted to solve. But rather than letting that discourage them, they found deeper motivation, connected with experts in the community, and asked those most affected by the epidemic what they needed, creating a more collaborative and effective tool.

What problem do you think you could tackle by digging in, connecting with experts, and trying something new? What problem are you not ready to give up on? What problem will you solve? 

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