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Phone App Cuts Risky Drinking in Recovering Alcoholics

Findings based on trial of patients leaving residential treatment with app versus usual care

FRIDAY, March 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A phone app can provide positive continuing care for patients with alcohol use disorders following discharge from a residential treatment facility, according to a study published online March 26 in JAMA Psychiatry.

David H. Gustafson, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues studied 349 patients who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria for alcohol dependence when they entered residential treatment. Participants were randomized to either treatment as usual (no coordinated continuing care after discharge) or treatment as usual plus a smartphone with the Addiction Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS).

The researchers found that, for the eight months of the intervention and four months of follow-up, patients in the A-CHESS group reported significantly fewer risky drinking days (the number of days during which a patient's drinking in a two-hour period exceeded four standard drinks for men and three standard drinks for women), compared to patients in the control group (mean, 1.39 versus 2.75 days; P = 0.003).

"The findings suggest that a multi-featured smartphone application may have significant benefit to patients in continuing care for alcohol use disorders," the authors write.

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