from the for-applications-other-than-dialing-while-intoxicated dept.
Papas Fritas writes:
Mark Prigg reports on a smartphone app for recovering alcoholics that sounds an alert when they get too close to their favorite bars. The app, nicknamed A-CHESS for the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, has been deemed a success in initial trials as adults who got free sober smartphones reported fewer drinking days and more overall abstinence than those who got the usual follow-up support. The app contains a range of support facilities, including GPS that triggers when the person gets near a favorite bar. If it seems that they are contemplating entering (such as if they stay near the area), the app will play a pre-recorded confessional video of the patient recounting their experience with alcoholism or a recording of one of their children pleading with them not to drink. The app also includes a panic button that can be programmed to notify peers who are nearest to the patient when the button is pushed. "It does seem a little intrusive, but for people who are really battling with alcoholism, they need a lot of this type of monitoring and ongoing support," says Dr. Scott Krakower. "They do well in controlled settings, but when they leave the center and go back into their environment, they are at risk for relapse."
A clinical trial observed 350 participants recently released from rehabilitation centers, with 52 percent using A-CHESS remaining alcohol-free for the following year. Of those participants who received only traditional support methods, only 40 percent remained alcohol-free. Users of A-CHESS also experienced half the risky drinking days of those who did not. A company is being formed to commercialize the app and A-CHESS could soon become available to the public through Android and Apple stores. Dr. Gail Basch says proven methods for helping prevent relapse include patient monitoring and support from family and peers. "A stand-alone mobile app may not be the answer, but one can see how it could fit in nicely. A real-time tool, as well as reminders throughout the day, could be very helpful for a recovering brain."