Researchers at the University of Wisconsin (UW), Madison, have developed a smartphone app that helps recovering alcoholics overcome their addiction and make it less likely that they will relapse. The app, called Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System, or "A-CHESS," provides a suite of tools for users that makes it easier to stay sober.
Among the features included in the app are encouraging messages that are sent to the user's phone periodically and an alarm that lets the user or their loved ones know when they've entered a "trouble spot," meaning a place where they used to drink. It also asks the user about their mental state and how they're coping.
So far, A-CHESS has shown promising results among the 350 participants who have used the app in a clinical trial. The researchers found that those using the program experienced 57 percent fewer risky drinking days after four months when compared with a control group. Those who used the app were 65 percent more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol, and 52 percent had remained consistently sober for up to a year after participating in the trial.
According to those working on the study, the advent of smartphone apps has made it possible to develop software that can truly help those dealing with addictions. There are already several apps available that have tried to help alcoholics, but none have included the comprehensive feature set offered by A-CHESS.
"CHESS has been developing websites to help people manage chronic diseases for some time and when mobile apps became a possibility we saw they could be used for addictions rather than solely using websites," Andrew Isham, a UW researcher, told The Badger Herald, the campus newspaper. Isham also noted that the development of the software was a cross-disciplinary effort, with members of the computer science, journalism, psychology and medical schools all taking part.
The hope is that the app will one day be commercially available for use by other patients and their doctors. It is still being researched and additional components are expected to be added. The app has become so successful that health agencies are already requesting to use it for treatment of addiction.
It's certainly a positive development that technology is being used to treat alcoholism, which is a crippling illness that is never easy to overcome. If your loved one is struggling with alcohol dependence, the best thing you can do is enroll them in the drug addiction treatment program at Fairwinds Treatment Center. Our dual diagnosis program has been proven to be effective not just in addressing the addiction, but the underlying causes that have led a person to become addicted in the first place. For more information, contact us today at (727) 449-0300.