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Smartphone app helps support recovery after treatment for alcoholism

A appears to help patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD) reduce risky drinking days compared to patients who received usual care after leaving treatment in a . The research is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

is a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis with relapse rates similar to other . Continuing care for AUDs has been associated with better outcomes, but patients leaving treatment for AUDs typically are not offered aftercare.

The authors randomized 349 patients with alcohol dependence leaving three residential programs to treatment as usual (n=179) for a year or treatment plus a smartphone (n=170) with the Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS) application. The application featured audio-guided relaxation and alerts if patients neared a high-risk location, such as a bar they used to frequent.

Patients who used the reported fewer risky drinking days (when a patient’s drinking in a two-hour period exceeded four standard drinks for men and three for women) compared with controls (an average 1.37 fewer risky drinking days in the group). A standard drink is a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. Patients using the also had a higher likelihood of 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.”

Source

JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 26, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.4642.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.