Mobile App Helped Recovering Alcoholics Stay Sober

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Last Updated: Dec 3, 2016

Recovering alcoholics using a Smartphone app that contains a panic button and alerts when they neared taverns helped some to stay away, in reference to researchers who developed the tool.

This sober app joins other electronic devices, including a variety of other options that assist drug and alcohol addicts to prevent a relapse using various features.

According to the study, adults who got out of alcoholism treatment center who obtained free sober Smartphone said they drunk less and mostly abstained in comparison to those who only got follow-up support.

The findings were based on patients’ self-reporting as to whether they went back to alcoholism, a potential restriction. Additionally, immediate introduction of the Smartphone-based help was assumed helpful in the fight against a relapse, according to health experts.

Mark Witala, 32, participated in the study and reckoned that the app saved his life. He said that the most helpful feature gave him a chance to connect to a network of peers who’d tried the same recovery course. With the app, they could receive encouraging texts or phone calls when they were in need of emotional help.

Recovering Alcoholics

Findings of the study were made public on Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

The research involved 271 adult participants tracked for a year after in-patient alcoholism treatment in a U.S. center located in the Midwest and Northeast. They were assigned sober Smartphone app for eight months inclusive of usual follow-up treatments.

The app had feature for asking periodic questions by text or voicemail about how patients were fairing. If enough answers turned troublesome, the app automatically notified a counselor who then offered assistance.

When the panic button is pushed, it is programmed in a way to notify peers within the vicinity of the patient. It also provides links to relaxation techniques to calm the patient as help comes in.

David Gustafson, the lead author and director of Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said they have been told the app made a difference, adding that it is being commercially developed but not yet available.

Not until in the last study did the difference between the two groups come to surface. At eight months, 78% of the Smartphone users reported abstinence from alcohol within the previous 30 days, compared to 67% of the other patients. At 12 months, the number in the Smartphone group increased slightly and decreased slightly in the other group.

Daniel Falk, a scientist-administrator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said that the results for Smartphone users were comparable to what has been seen with standard follow-up counseling or anti-addiction medication. He also noted that 18 million Americans are affected by alcohol and only about 25% who receive treatment can abstain from alcohol for at least a year afterwards.

Dr. Gail Basch, director of the addiction medicine program at Rush university Medical Center in Chicago said that a stand-alone mobile app may not be the only solution, but one can see how nicely it could fit in. She also added that a real-time tool, including reminders throughout the day could be helpful for a brain that is recovering.

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