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An App Can Boost Recovery After Treatment for Alcoholism

Update Date: Mar 26, 2014 04:08 PM EDT
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As technology continues to advance, experts have started using devices, such as smartphones and tablets to help people improve their overall lifestyles. Several apps have been developed to help people keep track of their own health. In a new study, researchers examined a new app that was created to help support people who underwent or are undergoing treatment for alcoholism. The study concluded that this particular smartphone app was successful in helping people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) recover.

"The promising results of this trial in continuing care for AUDs point to the possible value of a smartphone intervention for treating AUDs and perhaps other chronic illnesses," the authors, David H. Gustafson, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues, wrote.

For this study, the research team recruited 349 patients with AUD. The patients were randomly assigned to two different types of treatment groups. 179 entered residential programs for one year. 170 received the same treatment but supplemented with the app known as the Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS). A-CHESS provides patients with an audio-guided relaxation system. It also alerts the patients whenever they are near a high-risk location, such as a familiar bar.

The researchers found that patients in the A-CHESS group reported fewer risky drinking days. These days are defined as drinking more than four standard drinks in less than two hours for men and more than three drinks for women. Standard drinks include a 12-ounce beer, five-ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. Aside from a reduction in drinking days, people in the A-CHESS group were also more likely to consistently avoid drinking alcohol.

The findings suggest that smartphone apps have the potential to help people with many different health problems, such as addiction. The study was published JAMA Psychiatry.

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