DDN Sept 2021 September 2021 DDN Magazine - Page 17

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they ’ re having a craving , he does two things – firstly , he suggests a mindful practise for letting the craving pass , one that uses positive imagery to represent the craving as a process that has an end . Secondly , he involves the user in an activity that will refocus them . In this case , an online matching game , where they do not need to feel self-conscious about participating , one that gives them feedback , and is rewarding . This intervention equips the user with a strategy to deal with cravings , where they are encouraged to participate in an activity that distracts them after visualising the craving as a process that comes to an end .
Another common experience for people in recovery is having unhelpful thoughts – that they don ’ t really have a problem with alcohol or drugs , and that everything will be okay this time . Here Foxbot helps by offering a reality check in the form of an adage that can challenge the unhelpful inner voice with a relatable example of something that ’ s apparent with the hindsight of recovery . For example , ‘ you can ’ t drink away alcoholism ’ or ‘ do you recall sobering up when you patted your pockets and couldn ’ t find your phone ’.
If you tell Foxbot you are in a
bad mood , he will attempt to raise a positive emotion using humour . Whilst his sense of humour may have been influenced by his design team , the jokes have been tested on a wider audience before they made the cut .
RECOVERY BOOST If a user is not experiencing a particular challenge but would still like to do something positive for their recovery , Foxbot offers the option of receiving a recovery boost . Research has shown that life appreciation and gratitude play a fundamental role in sustained and successful recovery . Foxbot capitalises on this by offering recovery boosters , powerful reminders of the things that are easy to take for granted or lose sight of in recovery , for example , ‘ see you later hangover ’, ‘ welcome back energy ’, ‘ adios shaking hands ’ and ‘ goodbye bloodshot eyes ’. This is to remind users of the positive outcomes they ’ ve acquired thanks to living in recovery , outcomes that can only be preserved by sustaining that recovery .
By providing an unlimited willingness to engage in conversation , Foxbot frequently relays the message that talking is important to recovery . His
conversational style includes phrases such as ‘ It ’ s good to talk ’, ‘ talking to you brightens my day ’, and ‘ don ’ t struggle in silence ’. Foxbot also gauges how useful an intervention is proving to be through the acquisition of real-time feedback , where , if necessary , an extended version of the intervention is presented to the user . For example , if a user has asked for a recovery boost , Foxbot will check-in during the intervention to ask if they feel they have had a boost , offering feedback options of ‘ yes , boosted ’ or ‘ no , power me up ’. If ‘ no ’ is selected , another set of recovery boosters are presented to the user .
To keep the conversation fresh , and avoid anticipated chat , Foxbot has a continually developing knowledge base . The AI component of his programming assigns different conversational experiences to the user to avoid ‘ hackneyed dialogue .’ As an example , when a user opts to ‘ chat again ’, a randomised response is given , such as , ‘ talking opens your mind to new ideas ’ or ‘ it ’ s always a good time to talk to me about recovery ’. This ensures the user experience is unpredictably different with each encounter . Foxbot can be considered
as being in his formative years – he is undergoing significant developmental change , which includes a growing knowledge base and repertoire of recovery suggestions . In addition , Foxbot can also remember his past conversations , so as he matures historic chats will be analysed to better inform how he should evolve . For example , if a disproportionate number of users engage in a specific intervention , this area will be prioritised with greater investment made to enrich the support available . Foxbot will also become wiser by gathering feedback on his own strengths , including his performance as a recovery friend . When he reaches this level of maturity , he – like his recovery friends – will be learning how to better use and develop his own strengths .
To get to know Foxbot and find out what else he can do , visit positivelysober . org where you can also look at the work being done to create a positive approach to recovery .
Lisa Ogilvie is a PhD student , Julie Prescott is reader in psychology , and Jerome Carson is professor of psychology , all at the University of Bolton