Smartphone applications (apps) seem to have permeated every facet of our lives. For people fighting alcohol addiction, there are a host of apps available to help. In a recent interview, Dr. David Gustafson, director of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin, discussed the benefits of a recently released app, A-CHESS.
The application provides a number of services to those seeking assistance. One service involves a GPS monitoring system which triggers an alarm when the user is approaching a bar or tavern listed as a place where he or she previously frequented.
The application also periodically asks the user questions. If the responses raise “red flags,” a counselor is notified who will then call the individual. Another service is an electronic equivalent of a social gathering place where those recovering can share their experiences. There is also a “panic button” for users to press when they need immediate help. This can prompt encouraging reminders recorded by the user or can even alert a nearby friend for help. A clinical trial indicates that A-CHESS users were 65% less likely to drink during the year following their release from a treatment program.
Dr. Gustafson pointed out that a great deal of information is stored about each user. This is a result of each person’s treatment being individualized. For those concerned with privacy implications, users can turn off certain aspects of the program; such as the GPS monitoring system. Dr. Gustafson stressed the importance of being forthright with users so they know their options.
There are, of course, no “quick-fixes” to alcoholism. Services like this are designed to add one more tool to those who are overcoming their addiction.