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There’s an App for Overcoming Alcoholism

By: ATSI Admin May 14, 2014 no comments

There’s an App for Overcoming Alcoholism

NoAlcoholThere’s truly an app for everything these days, from money management, dating and apps that can even help you figure out what to make for dinner. And now, there’s a new app with the lofty goal of helping people battling alcoholism stay sober.

The app, called A-CHESS, stands for Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System. A recent study shows that people who A-CHESS were 65 percent more likely to abstain from drinking after completing a treatment program, and cut reduced binge drinking episodes in half. The goal of addiction apps like A-CHESS is to provide active support after treatment is completed, when individuals are more likely tempted to re-use.

Staying Connected to the Recovery Community

A-CHESS sends its users daily messages of encouragement, connects them with online support groups and provides access to professionals counselors who assess feedback from users regarding their behaviors and struggles on a weekly basis so that more support can be provided when necessary.

The app, which is most commonly used on smart phones, can track participants’ locations, issuing an alert if they are getting close to a location that triggers substance use, such as a bar or liquor store. It can even provide users with instant distractions, or contact a friend for them when they hit the panic button feature.

The A-CHESS app is completely customizable, providing recovering alcoholics with many personalized options. Users can program the app to play music at certain times of weakness, or record and play back a loved one’s voice that offers words of encouragement. “It does seem a little intrusive, but for people who are really battling with alcoholism, they need a lot of this type of monitoring and ongoing support,” said Dr. Scott Krakower, an addiction treatment provider. “They do well in controlled settings, but when they leave the center and go back into their environment, they are at risk for relapse.”

The Future of Relapse Prevention

A-CHESS was developed through federal grants and is not yet available to the general public. Treatment facilities can purchase access to the app for patients, as needed. While it’s not the only app for alcoholism or addiction, it is the first of its kind to show effectiveness through real clinical studies.

“These sorts of systems have enormous potential,” said lead author David Gustafson, a professor the University of Wisconsin. “They are going to allow us to turn around not only addiction treatment, but the whole field of health care. It is tailored to each person, to give them the various tools they need to help them cope.”

Dr. Krakower agrees. “This is a sign of what the future will bring, and I think it’s definitely a progression in the right direction in terms of helping lots of people,” he said. “This type of application can help people learn ways of resisting alcohol use outside of a controlled setting like an addiction center.”

It is important for anyone going through therapy for alcoholism to consult their treatment professional prior to using apps for relapse prevention. By working together, many people are finding that modern technology, when paired with traditional treatment methods, can offer greater success at sustained recovery.

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