How Patients Recovering From Alcoholism Use a Smartphone Intervention

Research was funded by the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and published in the Journal of Dual Diagnosis

A study of individuals with alcohol dependence leaving residential treatment revealed that those with access to a smartphone app for ongoing support, resources, and information will use it if given the opportunity. The study, “How Patients Recovering from Alcoholism Use a Smartphone Intervention,” was funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and published in the Journal of Dual Diagnosis in September 2013. Participants were recruited from two residential treatment sites, one in the Midwest and one on the East Coast. 

All 349 individuals in the study were recently released from residential care for alcohol dependence, with some also drug dependent and diagnosed with mental illness. The group was split, with half placed in an experimental group that had access to the CHESS Health Connections smartphone app, part of the eRecovery solution. The app includes discussion groups, a library, cognitive-behavioral therapy exercises, motivational messaging, a sobriety counter, and more. The control group did not have app access.

The study measured app use and engagement for the first four months post-treatment. In the first week after treatment, 94% of the experimental group members accessed the app. At the end of 4 months, 78% were still actively using the app.

Key Findings.

  • 94% used the app within the first week of treatment
  • 78% were still using the app at 4 months

Though the average app usage at the four-month mark stood at 78%, the findings unveiled additional disparities in the duration of use among distinct subgroups. About 82% of individuals with alcohol and drug dependence continued to use the app at the 4-month mark. About 74% of participants with alcohol dependence and mental health issues were still active in the app at 4 months. Slightly fewer individuals, 72%, with alcohol dependence only were using the app. Researchers noted that although alcoholism is considered to be a chronic disease, little is offered to prevent relapse after treatment concludes, even though a return to use is very common. A smartphone intervention, they indicated, could prolong participation in continuing care, resulting in better outcomes.

Download the full research findings to learn more about how individuals who recently completed treatment for alcohol dependence stayed engaged with their recovery by using CHESS Health’s Connections app.

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