Tech-Based Interventions Offer Promise for Alcohol Use Disorder

Research was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and was published in Alcohol Research & Health

In 2011, about 17 million people in the United States suffered from alcohol use disorders, but only 10 percent received treatment. This article, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, summarizes multiple studies on the effectiveness of technology solutions to increase and provide continuing care for patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD), other addictions, and chronic diseases and highlights an early version of CHESS Health’s eRecovery solution. It also includes the results of a comprehensive literature review of studies that cover the use of technology in managing addictions and chronic diseases.

The review, conducted by a team of researchers led by Dave Gustafson, PhD, founder of CHESS Health, calls out some of the effective aspects of technology solutions as revealed in their analysis:

Key Results.

  • Patients view technology-based interventions as helpful in managing recovery.
  • Many patients acknowledge more drug use and psychiatric symptoms online than they do in face-to-face interviews. 
  • Computer-based interventions increased motivation and reduced problem drinking. 
  • Digital monitoring mechanisms can prompt rapid support to prevent relapse. 
  • Online forums, message boards, and email can be powerful sources of social support to prevent relapse. 

The early version of the CHESS Health smartphone solution outlined in the review includes many of the features of today’s version, the Connections app, including check-ins and surveys with feedback delivered to care providers, social support through discussion groups, a library of resources on addiction management, and inspirational messages. At the time of publication, CHESS Health’s app was undergoing evaluation in three randomized clinical trials, and the study authors noted the need for research on smartphone interventions to move more quickly to keep up with the quick pace of technological developments. 

In the literature review of multiple studies, the authors noted that all of the alcohol and other drug abuse studies recorded a positive effect with technology-based interventions. The most promising technology-based approaches included interventions using push technology that combined patient monitoring with tailored information, social support, and automated systems that alert the patient and the care provider when a predetermined indicator is present. 

The initial research confirmed Dr. Gustafson’s hypothesis that smartphone interventions could significantly help individuals with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It highlighted the existing need for such support and identified a lack of available solutions addressing this specific requirement. Subsequent research demonstrated the efficacy of the A-CHESS smartphone solution.

Access the complete article, An E-Health Solution for People with Alcohol Problems, for full details on the research summarized and the conclusions of the research team. 

In this study, the mention of A-CHESS refers to what is now known as the Connections app, which is a part of CHESS Health’s eRecovery solution.

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