Scientists interested in addiction and recovery now have a way to harness the power of the Internet, thanks to the newly launched National Quit and Recovery Registry. The site uses a type of information-sharing known as "crowdsourcing" to connect scientists and people who have overcome any type of addiction. Participants can share their own experiences and register to be contacted for online and on-site studies.

"We're hoping that, by being in contact with people who have quit an addiction for a year or more, we will be better able to inform the treatment process," says Warren Bickel, PhD, who runs the site and directs the Advanced Recovery Research Center of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. "It's a positive information-sharing opportunity for us to learn from the people who have been successful in quitting an addiction, and to share that knowledge with health-care providers and other researchers."

Crowdsourcing has been successfully used in obesity research, enabling the creation of a national weight control registry in which scientists can learn, for example, how people avoid weight gain during the holidays.

"There's a great opportunity to do similar work to learn how people stay in recovery," Bickel says.

In particular, he adds, the center is interested in identifying the treatment or personal strategies that people who have quit addictions used to initiate their recovery, comparing the decision-making style of people who are addicted versus those in recovery, and the associated brain correlates.

The registry is still seeking participants, or "recovery heroes," to share their stories and experiences. People can participate in two ways: by registering their contact information with the Registry for upcoming studies, including Internet surveys and on-site visits at the center, and by anonymously sharing their own success stories on the website for the public to read. All personal information is kept strictly confidential, Bickel says, in accordance with human subjects regulations. The goal is to attract enough participants that the center can conduct sophisticated studies on addiction and recovery, share that information with other researchers in the field, and to provide a useful resource for recovery studies.

—E. Wojcik

Explore the National Quit and Recovery Registry.