Alcohol App May Help Recovering Patients Stay Sober
Approximately 17 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) – a medical term that includes both alcoholism and harmful drinking that does not reach the level of dependence.
According to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, a new smartphone app could provide effective continuing care, to help cut down the number of days recovering alcohol abusers drink.
The study involved 349 patients who met the criteria for alcohol dependence when they entered residential treatment. Patients were randomized to treatment as usual, or treatment as usual plus a smartphone app called the Addiction–Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS).
A-CHESS is designed to improve continuing care for AUDs by monitoring patients, providing them with information, and offering support services such as connecting them to a counselor. For the eight months of the intervention and four months of follow-up, patients in the A-CHESS group reported significantly fewer risky drinking days than did patients in the control group.
The study defined “risky drinking days” as a day in which a male patient drank more than four drinks in a 2-hour period, or a female patient drank more than three drinks in the same period.
Patients in the control group reported an average of 2.75 risky drinking days, while those in the A-CHESS group reported an average of 1.39 risky drinking days.
This study is important because patients leaving residential treatment for AUD are typically not offered evidence-based continuing care, although research suggests that continuing care is associated with better outcomes. A smartphone-based application could provide effective, continuing care.
While Hispanics and Blacks have relatively fewer alcohol use disorders than non-Hispanic whites, ethnic and racial disparities still exist for alcohol-related diseases and problems such as liver disease, alcohol-related traffic deaths (highest among Native Americans and Alaska Natives) and others reported here.