Can An App Help Keep Recovering Alcoholics Sober?

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Recovering alcoholics struggle with relapse on a daily basis, but a new smart phone app aims to help with staying clean. According to the creators of the app, recovering alcoholics who use the app had a much easier time avoiding alcohol up to a year after leaving rehab compared to those who did not use the app.

The app, called A-CHESS, is a simple system that uses GPS to alert users when they begin to get close to a favorite bar. If the user doesn’t continue past the bar, the app continues to send steady alerts to encourage the user to move on. Then, once two or three alerts have been sent, the phone will ring with a pre-recorded message from a friend or family member emphasizing the importance of staying sober. The app even allows users to press a panic button which can automatically contact their sponsor or another designated person to provide support.

The app seems to work according to a trial involving 350 recovering alcoholics, which saw that those randomly assigned to use the app had an average of 1.4 binge drinking days per month, compared to 2.8 days for those who did not use the app. The study defined binge drinking days as days in which the participant consumed as much or more than three or four alcoholic beverages in two hours.

It certainly won’t be enough to make getting sober easy, but the app sounds like it can be an important tool in dangerous situations that may often cause relapse. Currently the app is only available from rehab centers, but it is intended to be available to consumers in July.

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