Several systems for treating alcohol-use disorders (AUDs) exist that operate on mobile phones. These systems are categorized into four groups: text-messaging monitoring and reminder systems, text-messaging intervention systems, comprehensive recovery management systems, and game-based systems. Text-messaging monitoring and reminder systems deliver reminders and prompt reporting of alcohol consumption, enabling continuous monitoring of alcohol use. Text-messaging intervention systems additionally deliver text messages designed to promote abstinence and recovery. Comprehensive recovery management systems use the capabilities of smart-phones to provide a variety of tools and services that can be tailored to individuals, including in-the-moment assessments and access to peer discussion groups. Game-based systems engage the user using video games. Although many commercial applications for treatment of AUDs exist, few (if any) have empirical evidence of effectiveness. The available evidence suggests that although texting-based applications may have beneficial effects, they are probably insufficient as interventions for AUDs. Comprehensive recovery management systems have the strongest theoretical base and have yielded the strongest and longest-lasting effects, but challenges remain, including cost, understanding which features account for effects, and keeping up with technological advances.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, v. 36, no. 1, p. 111-122.

Unless otherwise noted in the text, all material appearing in this journal is in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission. Citation of the source is appreciated.

Funding Information

Research support is provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01–DA–034279–01, R01–DA–O30431– 01) and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (5–P50–HS–019917–02).