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Using Mobile Apps to Stay Sober

Health-related apps do everything from helping people lose weight to training for a marathon. Did you know there are mobile apps that can help you stay sober, too? One new app under development, called A-CHESS, keeps users on the path to sobriety with regular texts, phone calls, and alerts. Today’s best technology may one day give you the supportive boost you need — and make the difference between relapse and sobriety. The “Enormous Potential” of Anti-Alcohol Apps For decades, scientists and other addiction professionals have searched for effective ways to keep people from reversing back to addictive lifestyles. From the 12 Steps to cognitive behavioral therapy, there has been an enormous amount of progress in the last 75 years; however, as those who struggle with alcoholism already understand, fleeting moments when it seems like an okay idea to have a drink occur far too frequently. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a quick booster that encouraged people to stay on the path to sobriety? Now there is — and early success rates are impressive. A-CHESS is an alcoholism support app that prevents relapse with personalized encouragement and guidance. For example, a user might enter their favorite bars or other dangerous trigger spots. When nearing the spot, the app sends a powerful reminder of the need to stay sober — a video of a child begging the user not to drink, or a retelling of the misery felt when drinking. The app also features a “panic” button that lets the user get treatment for alcoholism when immediate help is required. Periodic questions, sent via voicemail or text, investigate the user’s mindset and refer the user to a nearby counselor or peer group if the answers become worrisome. “For people who are really battling with alcoholism, they need a lot of this type of monitoring and ongoing support,” addiction specialist Dr. Scott Krakower told WebMD. “This type of application can help people learn ways of resisting alcohol use outside of a controlled setting like an addiction center.” More Than Half of Users Report Success Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by relapse. A-CHESS, which uses GPS technology to track users’ movements, demonstrated a 65 percent improvement in abstention rates and a 50 percent reduction in risky near-binge drinking after a one-year period — impressive enough to merit further investigation. A-CHESS is not ready for commercial release, but it is currently under development for widespread use. (photo via)

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