Patients leaving residential treatment for alcohol use disorders are not typically offered evidence-based continuing care, although research suggests that continuing care is associated with better outcomes. This study suggests that a smartphone-based application could provide effective continuing care.
The study sought to determine whether patients leaving residential treatment for AUDs with a smartphone application to support recovery have fewer risky drinking days than control-group patients. 349 patients in five different residential programmes in the US were randomized to treatment as usual or treatment as usual plus a smartphone with A-CHESS, an application designed to improve continuing care for AUDs. “A-CHESS” stands for Addiction – Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System. A-CHESS provides monitoring, information, communication, and support services to patients, including ways for patients and counselors to stay in contact. The intervention lasted 8 months and the follow-up period lasted 4 months.
Treatment as usual varied across programs; none offered patients coordinated continuing care after discharge. Patients were asked to report their risky drinking days in the previous 30 days on surveys taken 4, 8, and 12 months after discharge from residential treatment. Risky drinking days—the number of days during which a patient’s drinking in a 2-hour period exceeded, for men, 4 standard drinks and for women, 3 standard drinks.
For the 8 months of the intervention and 4 months of follow-up, patients in the A-CHESS group reported significantly fewer risky drinking days than patients in the control group. The findings suggest that a multi-featured smartphone application may have significant benefit to patients in continuing care for AUDs.