Alcoholics: There’s an app for that

Problem with addiction? There's an App for that.
Problem with addiction? There's an App for that.
Problem with addiction? There’s an App for that.

For many people struggling with addiction, temptation can rear its ugly head at a moment’s notice. With a new app, recovering alcoholics can be notified when their temptation is nearby with a resounding alarm.

The app nicknamed A-CHESS, short for Addiction Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System, was created for rehabilitated alcoholics to help them prevent a relapse in binge drinking. The system was created at the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, according to the program’s website, it will “improve competence, relatedness and autonomy which will reduce the days of risky drinking over a 12-month period.”

The app has several features, most notably an alert system that notifies users when they are nearby one of their high-risk areas, such as a bar or tavern they used to visit.

While this app seeks to help recovering alcoholics and has had positive results in the past year, much of its concept seems illogical. The alert system notifies users when their favorite bar is nearby, which can often trigger in the recovering alcoholic the need to stop by for a drink. Without the app, the person may not have stopped by, especially if the establishment was out of sight and out of mind but just happened to be in the direction the person was going.

There are, however, some positive features to the app. For example, the app allows users to connect with people from their support group or their counselor to find encouragement as they continue on the road to recovery. This more than anything else seems like it would be the most important part to the app’s success.

However, much of the app’s positive feedback has been based on self-reported results from the alcoholics, which is bound to have a significant margin of error as many addicts would not want to admit relapsing.

Also, the app has only been tested for one year. An addict’s recovery cannot be fully determined in a year’s time as many alcoholics relapse several years after their rehabilitation.

Though the app seems to be making a difference for many people, it’s important to remember that the desire to change and make a better life for oneself lies only in the hands of the recovering alcoholic. No app is going to make someone want to stop drinking. That’s a decision they have to make all on their own.