Staying Sober with the Help of a Mobile Phone?

Every sixth person in Germany consumes too much alcohol. For approximately four percent of people, that indulgence develops into an addiction, making alcoholism one of the most prevalent psychological disorders. Following an initial in-patient detoxification, few patients utilise subsequent treatment options. The current project “Smartphone-assisted Sobriety Assistance Following Alcohol Withdrawal”, which is a combination of smartphone app and telephone coaching, is meant to help affected persons find suitable support offerings and measures for maintaining long-term sobriety. The Federal Joint Committee is therefore providing the Universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg and Bamberg with 2.4 million euros in innovation funding over three years beginning in May 2019.

“Those who have only recently gotten sober are at a very high risk of relapse,” explains Prof. Sabine Steins-Löber, Chair of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Bamberg. “In this phase, individual follow-up measures are particularly important.” For this reason, researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg are teaming with multiple hospitals in the Franconian region of Bavaria to introduce an innovative treatment plan. With the help of a new form of care known as SmartAssistEntz developed by Prof. Matthias Berking and his team at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, patients will receive support not only in finding suitable follow-up measures, but also in their implementation and effective long-term use. As a first step, patients use an app to help learn to strengthen their own motivation, recognise addiction-related cravings, deal with risk situations and activate their own resources. In the second treatment component, they utilise telediagnosis to receive recommendations for appropriate subsequent measures like self-help groups or one-on-one conversations. In the third component, patients work with an e-coach to develop a sustainability plan that lays out when each of these measures is to be implemented.

University of Bamberg psychologists Sabine Steins-Löber, Niklas Enewoldsen and Daniela Reichl are currently studying how and whether these treatment components take effect. They have received 395,000 euros for their sub-project. “We’re evaluating the effects of the new treatment concept. Among other things, we’re examining the risk of relapse within a six-month period to compare treatment using SmartAssistEntz to standard care,” says Steins-Löber. The researchers surveyed both patients and treatment providers, and they have also incorporated date provided by participating health insurance companies and pension funds. “If the concept proves successful, it’s conceivable that it will also be implemented in other regions or will be mad part of standard treatment plans.” Steins-Löber, who also conducts research on obesity, eating disorders, shopping addiction and binge watching, expects initial findings by January 2021.

Further information can be found at http://www.uni-bamberg.de/klinpsych/forschung/projekte/smartassistentz

contact for scientific information:
Contact for content-related queries:
Prof. Dr. Sabine Steins-Löber
Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Tel.: 0951/863-1884 or -1885 (secretary)
sabine.steins-loeber@uni-bamberg.de

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