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Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

Smartphone Technology Helps People Cut Down on Drinking

A smartphone-based application helped people in recovery from alcohol use disorders to cut down on drinking days, according to a recent clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The study enrolled 349 adults leaving residential alcohol treatment centers. The volunteers took part in a postrehabilitation support program in which they were randomly assigned into two groups. The control group received standard treatment, whereas another group received standard treatment plus a new smartphone with the intervention app, called A-CHESS—short for Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System. A-CHESS offers a multifaceted toolset for recovery. Using GPS technology, the app can alert owners when they approach high-risk areas such as bars. The “panic button” can quickly connect patients with counselors and support contacts. A-CHESS also can link to meetings, recovery information, and tips to ease stress (view the tools at The study team followed both groups for 1 year, with surveys conducted at 4, 8, and 12 months. One of the outcome measures focused on “risky drinking days,” when a patient’s drinking in a 2-hour period exceeded 4 standard drinks for men and 3 for women. The findings revealed that participants in the A-CHESS group reported less than a day and a half, on average, of risky drinking in the past month. That proved significantly lower than the control group, who reported almost 3 days of risky drinking per month. In addition, more than half of the A-CHESS group reported total abstinence from drinking within the past month, compared with only 40 percent of the control group. The researchers also underscored that participation rates for individuals using A-CHESS were higher than rates typically seen in aftercare programs for alcohol use disorders. The results are promising for the continued study of the effectiveness of eHealth intervention tools to help people in alcoholism recovery. Originally published on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NCIAAA) Website.

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