App helps recovering substance abusers with real-time support, resources

A smartphone app is helping recovering drug and alcohol users remain clean and sober by providing real-time counseling and support mechanisms that help users avoid relapses and hurdle "trigger" events that can lead to substance abuse, according to a Washington Times report.

The technology, created by the Addiction Center for Health Enhancement System Studies (ACHESS) at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is being provided to patients through the Central Kansas Foundation (CKF), a nonprofit group that helps drug addicts and alcohol abusers.

The mHealth tool offers communications with peer support groups and health experts for assessing the risk of relapse; provides alerts to encourage users to meet goals; offers access to online resources; and has a one-touch communication capability to reach a care manager.The app also provides relaxation techniques such as yoga tips, access to an online discussion board and an alert if the user is within reach of a "danger zone," such as a liquor store.

"[The system] is aimed at extending the use of the Internet and cellphones for options, for recovery tools, to help you stay clean and sober," Les Sperling, CEO of CKF, told the Washington Times. Currently 54 of the foundation's 197 patients are using ACHESS and another 12 are expected to begin using the app. The software license will allow for 100 users.

Such mHealth tools are being adopted and embraced by both consumers and providers as they give users on-demand access to care providers, support programs and resources away from traditional clinic visits in a cost-effective approach.

One example is the new Verizon Virtual Visits platform, which will allow consumers to make virtual appointments with physicians via a smartphone, tablet or computer. Patients can schedule a virtual consultation appointment for acute illnesses, such as a sore throat, and physicians can send prescriptions to pharmacies and provide referrals via the service, FierceMobileHealthcare previously reported. 

In addition, a recent FICO survey reveals four out of five smartphone users worldwide are interested in mHealth technology that will let them interact with healthcare providers.

The ACHESS app is also the focus of a clinical trial, called the Addiction CHESS Project, at the University of Wisconsin. The trial will include 280 alcohol-dependent patients from two treatment agencies, CAB Health and Recovery Services, Boston, Massachusetts, and Fayette Companies, in Peoria, Illinois.

For more information:
- read the Washington Times article
- read more about the CHESS project

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