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Smartphone App Helps Alcoholics Quit

Update Date: Mar 26, 2014 05:25 PM EDT
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Researchers have created a smartphone application that may help alcoholics quit for good, according to a new study.

Researchers found that the application helps patients with alcohol use disorder cut down on risky drinking days. The study found that participants who used to application were more likely to reduce risky drinking days compared to those who receive usual care after leaving treatment in a rehabilitation program.

While alcoholism is a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis with high relapse rates, studies found that continuing care for alcohol use disorders can lead to better outcomes. However, recovering alcoholics are generally not offered aftercare.

The latest study involved 349 patients with alcohol dependence leaving three residential programs. Researchers said that 179 patients received usual treatment and 170 received treatment plus a smartphone with the Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS) application.

The findings revealed that those who used the smartphone application reported fewer risky drinking days, which was defined as drinking more than four standard drinks for men and three for women in a two-hour period, than controls. Researchers said that patients who used the smartphone had on average 1.37 fewer risky drinking days than those who didn't use it.

Researchers defined a standard drink as a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

The findings also revealed that patients who used the smartphone application were more likely to have consistent abstinence from alcohol.

"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," researchers concluded.

The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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