A new smartphone app helps recovering alcoholics Show Notes

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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A new smartphone app has been developed for recovering alcoholics. It includes a panic button and sounds an alert when the person gets too close to a bar.

According to CBSNews.com, a study was conducted using the app, which involved 350 people leaving residential treatment programs for alcoholism. Half of them used the smartphone app designed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, while the other half received conventional treatment. 

The app includes a feature that regularly asks the person how they are doing with their recovery, via text or voicemail. If their answers raise a red flag, the system automatically notifies a counselor who can then offer help.

The app also has a panic button that can be programmed to notify recovering peers who are nearby. It also offers links to relaxation techniques to calm the patient while he or she is waiting for help.

The patients who got the free “sober smartphones” reported fewer binge drinking days and more alcohol free days than the patients who received the usual follow-up support.

Mark Wiitala took part in the study and says the app helped save his life. He said the most helpful feature allowed him to connect to a network of peers who'd gone through the same recovery program. The app made them immediately accessible for an encouraging text or phone call when he needed help.

Mark says "It's an absolutely amazing tool,"

By the way The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 38 million Americans drink too heavily, and more than 25,000 alcohol-related deaths occur each year.

If you need help with a drug or alcohol problem, visit aa.org.

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.
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