Tag Archives: drugs

App of the Week – WeConnect

palalinqAddiction is a serious personal problem. Let me correct myself. Addiction is a life or death internal war. Finding help and building a support network is vital to living beyond the addiction. That is why  “WeConnect” is the App of the Week.

WeConnect is an app-based platform that puts support for the recovering addict right in the palm of their  hands. And for the struggling addict that could be a miracle when they need it most.

Addiction in America is a frightening problem. A 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that there are an estimated 23 million Americans, some as young as 12 years old, using illegal drugs. The survey also reported an estimated 22.2 million persons age 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year. For Black people the addiction problem is especially acute. These stats from a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) are tragic.

  • The rate of illegal drug use in the last month among African Americans ages 12 and up in 2014 was 12.4%, compared to the national average of 10.2%.
  • The rate of binge drinking (drinking five or more drinks on a single occasion for men) among African Americans ages 12 and up was 21.6%–compared with the national average of 23%.
  • African Americans ages 12 to 20 in 2014 reported past-month alcohol use at a rate of 17.3%, compared with the national average of 22.8%. Past-month underage binge drinking was 8.5% for African American youth, while the national average was 13.8%.

And in case you haven’t heard there is also a deadly heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping the nation.

WeConnect offers context-sensitive notifications to encourage timely communication within support groups. The apps dashboard view structures the user’s day with activities that are vital to his or her recovery such as prayer or meditation. WeConnect provides ongoing tracking of the recovering addicts progress. This is another vital function as every addict understands the concept of one day at a time.  The app can help track attendance at recovery program meetings. Addicts are master liars. Anyone who has dealt with one knows this. WeConnect tries to cut down on the lies and deception with functions that include using geofencing to determine if the addict really attended a particular meeting and even how long they spent there.

If you know an addict or are one yourself you know the struggle. And you also know some days are worse than others. WeConnect includes an SOS button a user can press to send an immediate and urgent message seeking help and support from pre-selected contacts. 

WeConnect also offers a rewards element built in to the app that allows users  to earn things like coffee coupons and yoga lessons as they advance in their recovery and progress towards a life free of substance abuse.

Currently WeConnect is in beta testing stage but that does not mean if you are an addict you cannot get help from this app. To become an early adapter click here.

App of the Week – OneRx

OneRxMedicine is expensive. Whether you have insurance or not the price of prescription drugs can be astronomical. That is why OneRx is the App of the Week.

Why are prescription drugs so expensive. Because drug companies spend billions of dollars and years researching and testing new drugs. Sometimes only to have the Food and Drug Administration deny them the the right to sell it. There is always the chance of a massive lawsuits from unforseen side effects. Creating a new drug is a gamble. If approved for use by the FDA, the drug company has the right to recoup their investment plus profits over a period of time usually years. Only then does the generic equivalent hit the market.

Generic drugs are the biochemical equivalent of a name brand drug and even though they are the same drug they sell for much, much less than brand name drugs. According to the Food and Drug Administration generic drugs save the consumer $8 to $10 billion dollars a year in retail sales.

Black people still struggle to pay for much needed medications. Research shows that people of color are twice as likely to be without medical insurance than white Americans. According to the NAACP;

  • 18% of African Americans under 65 years are without health insurance coverage.
  • Over 103 million people of color nationwide suffer disproportionately in the health care system
  • A larger share of African Americans and Latinos lack a usual place of health care, and they are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor.

One Rx has a way to help. OneRx combines coupons and insurance discounts to figure out how little a person has to spend on medication. The app allows the user to know the price of the medication before the doctor writes the prescription. This is especially helpful if you find your insurance doesn’t cover the medicine prescribed.

The best thing about this app is that it works even if you don’t have insurance.

OneRX takes the users insurance card information that is submitted by picture or input by hand. It then combines how much your insurance will pay with available coupons then tells you what pharmacies can give you that price. If you are having trouble paying for prescription drugs you can find more help here.

OneRX is free and available for Apple and Android devices.

 

App of the Week – Drugs.com Interaction App Suite

We have become a medicated society. It’s a sad fact and a topic for another website. But because of America’s infatuation with pill popping we need to understand the drugs and foods we take in and how they will react inside our bodies. According to the Food and Drug Administration prescription drugs kill over 100,000 people every year. Of that number 35,000 are in nursing homes. Many of these deaths are preventable if the people simply took time to understand what drugs they are taking and talk to their doctor(s) about interactions. You also need to have that in-depth understanding if you are the caregiver or have a loved one in a caring facility. A death or serious medical situation could arise simply by drinking grapefruit juice or eating the wrong foods with prescription drugs.

That is why Drugs.com has been named the App of the Week. The Drugs.com app is actually a suite of apps that cover many areas of drug usage for the consumer and the physician. Drugs.com currently only offers one of these app for the Android platform the rest are on the Apple platform only. We usually frown upon this limitation but this group of apps deserve recognition. Not all of the apps are free but if they prevent a poisoning how much is that worth? Understanding the drugs you are taking is critical for people with chronic medical conditions who must manage an extensive drug regimen, elderly people and people who see more than one doctor for various ailments.

The Drugs.com app suite includes an extremely helpful and powerful Medication Guide for the user. This provides the user a way to look up drug information, identify what pill they have, check interactions and and most importantly set up their own personal medication records. This feature is designed for the mobile user and requires an Internet connection. This app is free and available for Apple and the only app available for Android.

Another feature of the Drugs.com app is the Pill Identifier. Many people, especially the elderly struggle to read the small print on a pill bottle, get drug names confused or simply can’t tell pills apart without help. The Pill Identifier App is a searchable database of pill pictures that contains more than 14,000 prescription pills and over the counter medications available in the U.S. The user can search the database using the text imprinted on the pill, drug name, color and shape. The app is only .99 cents and also requires an Internet connection to view the pill images. It is available only for Apple iPhone and iPad.

The premium version is the Pill Identifier Pro app and is the same searchable database of pill images and sells for $39.95. The entire image database installs directly onto your mobile device, does not require an Internet connection and does not have any advertisements. It is only available for iPhone and iPad.

The Pill Reminder app keeps track of all your medications. When you add a prescription you can also choose to get pill reminders right on your mobile device. The app also allows you to add personal notes, get easy access to vital information about your meds online including information such as as side effects, dosage and safe use during pregnancy. The only thing I would add to this app is an alert that notifies you if a drug you have added to the list creates a dangerous interaction with another drug on the list. How did they miss that? This app is free and only available on iPhone.

Drugs.com is also providing an app for pros. The Drug Reference for Health Professionals is a comprehensive drug reference guide that is rapidly accessible. The app provides critical information about prescribing drugs, including dosing guidelines, drug interactions, potential adverse reactions, warnings and precautions. The entire database installs directly onto your mobile device. The app sells for $39.95, requires no Internet connection and is only available on Apple iPhone and iPad.

A Drug Reference for Consumers app is also available.  It provides easy to understand drug information displayed in a simple and readable mobile format. The consumer can find much of the same information on side effects, dosing, drug interactions, warnings and precautions in the pro version.The entire database installs directly onto your mobile device. It sells for $24.95 and needs no Internet connection. Available only for iPhone and iPad.

 

 

SketchFactor; Is This A Racist App?

uptown-sketchfactorLast August an app was launched that has raised some serious questions about racism and technology. The app is named SketchFactor and its purpose is to alert the user of dangerous neighborhoods in cities they maybe unfamiliar with. Does this make the developers of SketchFactor racist?

SketchFactor works similar to the Yelp  app which uses the personal views of customers to rate restaurants and other services. But the suspicion is that SketchFactor is using words like ‘dangerous’ and ‘drugs’ to hide racism. That these so called “dog whistle” words communicate and promote the idea that some areas are dangerous based solely on the skin color of the people that live there. But lets be real; is that not occassionally true. Are there not neighborhoods, even whole counties where blacks are not welcome? Ask anybody in the south. Would that be a sketchy neighborhood to a black person? What about white wealthy neighborhoods where a black person is viewed with suspicion? Ask Jaime Foxx.

SketchFactor was created by Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington. Yeah, they are white. The creators developed the app to allows user to rate a neighborhood’s “relative sketchiness” on a five-point scale. The app also uses publicly available data to complete the sketchiness rankings.

Anyone who moves to a new city would want to know what areas to avoid. High crime areas are first on the list of course. What about areas where there is no bus or taxi service? Areas of the city where there are high rates of prostitution? If you took a job in the downtown area of a major city wouldn’t you want to know that the neighborhood changes after dark? There are two ways to learn this information; someone tells you or you learn it first hand and hopefully not the hard way. And that is where SketchFactor steps in and delivers this information to your mobile device or computer. Not smelling any racism yet.

But the question has to be what is the definition of “sketchy?” There are a lot of words that can be used in place of sketchy when describing a less than desirable neighborhood. You could use dicey, suspect, shady, iffy, whatever. The Team SketchFactor blogdefines sketchy as “an event that’s uncomfortable and out of the ordinary.” Ok, but an event that is uncomfortable and out of the ordinary depends on the neighborhood and its inhabitants. For example; it is not out of the ordinary to see homeless people in San Francisco. It would be in Leesburg, VA.

But what if the phrase was used to describe a minority neighborhood or a singular experience in a neighborhood?  What is the SketchFactor of a white person who finds himself in a black or minority neighborhood compared to the feeling of a black person who feels the eyes of a white community on him when he finds himself there? What about being pulled over in a rich white neighborhood in the middle of the night just for being black? Now we can talk racism.

SketchFactor has some powerful reverberations that I am not sure that the creators took into consideration. First of all how has the app been marketed? Who is it directed toward? I have a feeling that there are a lot of fearful travelers who will use the app to make sure they don’t book a hotel that is too close to a “sketchy neighborhood.” The Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco is just a block or two from Union Square and also just a block or two from the  Tenderloin, one of the San Francisco’s “sketchiest” neighborhoods. So how long before businesses start to look upon this app as a danger to their well being? 

Another factor that has to be realized is real estate value. There are some homeowner(s) that are not going to be happy with the SketchFactor score of their neighborhood and react legally. There are lawsuits coming when you consider the use of the app and what it can do to property values and business especially if a few trolls decide to blackball the neighborhood. 

The creators of the app have made a point of making sure that the users understand that they are not racist. You can find the declaration on the launch page of the app. But that tells me that they understand that the app has some users who will indeed use the app to unfairly downgrade a neighborhood. They acknowledge it openly.

To prevent this the app uses an upvote-downvote rating system. According to the interview with Huffington Post McGuire believes that system will keep “super-racist” posts out of the system. Ms. McGuire please explain “super-racist” compared to regular-racist?”

McGuire also noted that users can search for crime-related ratings or can search for “bizarre discovery,” “catcalling” or “racial profiling.” The creators of the app stated that they use use publicly available data to rate neighborhoods. But how does the opinion of users compare to the real data collected by local police or other organizations? They did say they use this information in their rankings didn’t they? So can the user of the app make comparisons of statistical data compared to user posts?

McGuire asked the question;”Wouldn’t it be useful to understand where stop and frisks are actually happening?” She added “My mission in life is to give a voice to the voiceless. SketchFactor gives a voice to anyone with a smartphone.”

In her defense McGuire also clarified in an interview with Crain’s New York that people of all races, not just white people, can download the app. And that makes sense. McGuire admits that she does not encounter many sketchy neighborhoods even though she lives in New York. The affluent West Village neighborhood of Manhattan to be exact.

“I live in New York now. So almost nothing’s sketchy to me anymore.”  Really? I would ask Ms. McGuire to talk about the feeling she gets when she walks out the door and sees a “sketchy” black man standing on the corner? And how would the black man feel? Would he use the  “SketchFactor” app to point out that the white people of West Village are suspicious of black people in the neighborhood?

 

App of the Week Beats High Prescription Prices

Prices for prescription drugs can be extremely high. Even with insurance drug prices can still give you the proverbial sticker shock at the cash register. Insurance companies have a tendency to cover some drugs like generics or selected drugs but not others. And co-pays can vary from 100% to none at all. Some drugs can cost as much as $30-$70 a pill or more.

Getting drugs and medical care is a significant problem for many black people. According to the NAACP 18% of African-Americans below the age of 65 are without health insurance. The report also points out that a greater number of African-Americans and Latinos lack a usual place of health care, and they are less than half as likely as whites to have a regular doctor (HCAN).

But there is an app that can help with the cost of prescription drugs. LowestMed is an app that is available for both iPhones and Android that allows the user to compare prices at pharmacies in his or her immediate area to find the best possible price for prescription drugs.

LowestMed app is free and requires no personal information from the user. All you have to do is search for the FDA-approved drug and LowestMed will give you a round-up of prices for that prescription in your neighborhood. The app also offers discounts for these drugs but this doesn’t require any effort aside from showing the pharmacist a code. You click on the pharmacy, and receive a “discount card” to show the pharmacist in order to get that price.

Getting the needed drugs can become dire if you simply cannot afford drugs that you or a loved one desperately needs. Sadly some people have to choose between drugs or eating everyday. Some drug companies offer services that can help people get drugs at reduced prices if they are in need. Here is a list of organizations that may help you afford the drugs you need.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

RX Assistance

National Alliance on Mental Illness Drug Assistance

Needy Meds

Medicare.gov

HealthFinder.gov

LowestMed is the App of the Week.

 

Breaking Smartphone Addiction

canstockphoto16351660Breaking smartphone addiction is a serious issue. There are several technology addictions that are becoming recognized by professional psychologist. Black people’s lives are being destroyed in much the same way cocaine or alcohol destroys lives. We just can’t stop doing it.

Everyday African-Americans get fired from jobs because they can’t stay away from their cell or smartphones. These people can’t break away from a texting conversation, constantly check their email, or must surf the web every few minutes. And guess what, sooner or later the boss has seen enough and they get fired.

Other people can’t resist responding to a text even when they are driving and end up killing themselves or someone else because they weren’t focused on the road.

Men and women create strain in their  marriages or relationships because of cell phones and the Internet. Internet porn addiction has become common among men of all races. For more on Internet addiction read this.

But back to breaking smartphone addiction.  The average person unlocks their the phone 100 to 150 times a day. Make that 100 to 150 interruptions a day. But there are ways to break your smartphone addiction if you really try.  Here are a few tips.

Turn off notifications. Set your cell phone not to vibrate or ring when you are working. Same goes for your apps, Twitter, email, Facebook posts, Instagram,  whatever. On iPhones use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature for everything except for your spouse or children in case of emergency. You should do the same for your Android phone. Make a habit of checking your phone only on your break or lunch. It takes practice and determination but it could save your job or marriage.

Uninstall apps. You need to go cold turkey of you can’t wean yourself off slowly. Uninstall all unnecessary apps. Ask yourself what you really need daily? Start by focusing on apps that deliver websites and other online services to your smartphone.  Do you really need Facebook and Twitter on your phone? You already have them on your laptop or tablet? But I pray you don’t have them on your work computer! Do you really need  email on the go? Practice waiting until you’re back at your computer to check Pinterest or Instagram? With a smartphone, if you get in a bind, you can always access the web. 

Budget your time on your smartphone. Start with an hour a day. That means no games, no social media and short conversations. Limit anything on your smartphone that takes away time from other, more worthwhile pursuits; like finishing that report you boss asked for. Re-build your attention span by deleting apps that can interrupt you.

Removing duplicate apps means fewer notifications and fewer updates to install. You can also  free up storage space on your phone and reduce the clutter on your home screen. You might want to run an audit of all the apps on your smartphone. This is a good time to decide what you need and  don’t need. Once you delete an app if you haven’t re-installed it in a month, you never needed in the first place. You can also reduce the amount of information you broadcast by reducing the apps on your phone. Nearly all of them spy on you in one way or another.

Make use of airplane mode. Not only does this mode eliminate notifications but you can still use the camera and access any files you have on the device.

Airplane mode also blocks SMS messages and phone calls making you unavailable in the event of an emergency. You need to consider that.

Airplane mode also make a difference in your quality of sleep. Instead of dealing with dozens of notifications, beeps, buzzes and other distractions you can enjoy a good night sleep and a easy morning wake up. When its time to deal with the world again  you just tap a couple of buttons and the rat race begins. Keep in mind that the light from a phone or tablet has been proven to disturb normal sleep patterns.

Use a quitting app. That’s right there’s an app for breaking your smartphone addiction. How ironic! Besides setting your smartphone not to interrupt you there are apps that can monitor your mobile activity. These apps can limit your usage if you need that help. One of popular apps is known as  BreakFree. Its available for Apple and Android devices. The app provides a detailed breakdown about which apps are taking up most of your time and how often you’re checking your smartphone or tablet.

Quitting apps can also disable some or all notifications. They allow you to set an auto reply to text messages to let people know that you’re  taking a break. Beeps, and buzzes and the Internet can be disabled if needed. You can set specific times when you don’t want to be disturbed. BreakFree can also remind you of your current addiction level if you desire a constant reminder.

Other quitting apps alternatives include StayOnTask and AppDetox to help wean you off that technology addiction.  Both are available only for Android devices.

When all else fails; hide the damn thing! Or use any barrier you can think of to prevent you from checking your phone incessantly. Implement a complicated unlock code or password is one way to make it difficult to use that device. If you are at work leave your phone in a drawer or in the car. Promise yourself you will only check two or three times a day. At home, you could do the same if you want to give your undivided attention to a sports game, a movie or the spouse and family.

We live in a world of technology and mobility. But we also live with other people, some very important to us. We also have other fairly serious obligations that require our attention as well. If we fail to balance these things properly the results have proven to be disastrous. Technology addiction has become as dangerous as drugs and alcohol.

Now you know.