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Google adds new tools to Maps to counter drug addiction

New features will help those looking for drug recovery resources and the ones in need of Naloxone, which is used for the emergency treatment of known or suspected overdose.

Google Maps for drug addiction
Recovery Locator Tool and Naloxone Locator Tool are the two new features on Google Maps

If the statistics presented by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) are anything to go by, a whopping 19.7 million Americans (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017. That year, one out of every eight adults struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders at the same time. The survey further suggests that drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses and crime-related costs. According to health experts, it is unlikely that the scenario has changes in the past couple of years. 

What are the new features

With the dual objective of recognizing the National Recovery Month and providing relief to people in drug-infested areas, Google Maps has added new features that can help those recovering from drug addiction and the ones in urgent need of Naloxone, the life-saving drug. Naloxone is used for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid (narcotic) overdose. The centrepiece of the tech giant’s  effort is a new website, Recover Together, which seeks to centralize resources for people looking to get over addiction.

A part of the website has two specific Google Maps features, Recovery Locator Tool and Naloxone Locator Tool. As its name suggests, the former is a page designed specifically for those who want to find recovery resources near them. On the other hand, the latter is designed for people looking to buy Naloxone. “People come to Google every day to seek information on addiction and recovery,” reads the Google press release announcing the new tools. “In fact, just last month we saw an all-time high in search interest for ‘rehab near me’, ‘addiction treatment near me’ and ‘how to help an addict’,” the release adds.

According to Google, more than 23 million Americans are in recovery and that the company saw an “all-time high” of people searching for recovery treatment on the company’s search engine. Google has built the tools for National Recovery Month, an initiative launched by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Privacy concerns

As far as the privacy issue with the Recover Together website is concerned — if use of these features will be tied to specific Google accounts, the tech giant has assured that visits to the website would not be associated with any specific accounts, and that the page views will be measured, but anonymized. Further, Google has said that it will not use Naloxone-related searches to target advertisements.