It only takes a few drinks to flip the switch and go from having a nice night out to making an idiot of yourself. Most people don’t want to be the latter friend, however the problem that many previous studies have found is that we don’t have an accurate sense how much alcohol we’ve indulged in. But a new health oriented app might prove to be the answer.
Designed by doctors in Singapore and dubbed “The Alcohol Tracker”, the smartphone app works by allowing people to keep track of every alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, whiskey, cocktails) that they’ve consumed over the course of a day or an event.
Users first have to type in how many alcoholic drinks they’ve had each day, or each week, then the app sends them an alert the moment they exceed the maximum limit of alcohol that various health organizations have set as a standard, and they get in danger of drinking too much.
Danielle Ramo is an assistant professor of psychiatry over at the University of California’s School of Medicine (San Francisco) who has long researched how digital media might be able to help people change unhealthy habits. One such problem is alcoholism.
Professor Ramo gave a statement saying that “Smartphones can track how much someone drinks very quickly and easily. Smartphone apps have a lot of promise because of their ubiquity, because of their integration into people’s lives”. If experts are to make any progress with patients, it’s important to approach them in a medium that they feel comfortable with and in a manor that does not feel like a burden.
She went on to stress that alcoholism is not a problem people can control with just their willpower, and added that previous studies have revealed that computerized interventions (such as smartphone apps) are much better than a face-to-face counselor at assessing how many alcoholic drinks someone has indulged in.
However, the app does have the ability to contact said counselors, as well as medical assistance and various hotlines, if the individual requires it.
Melvyn Zhang, developer of The Alcohol Tracker and expert from the Institute of Mental Health, also gave a statement, explaining what makes this app is special.
The expert informed that while there are many smartphone apps out on the market that claim to manage someone’s drinking problem, most of them are not actually based on the clinical evidence that The Alcohol Tracker is, and serve more as entertainment than anything else.
Because different types of alcoholic beverages have different levels of alcohol, the smartphone app looks at alcohol units established by the National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom, as well as the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatment, in order to accurately assess alcohol consumption.
The general advice for women is not to consume more than two (2) or three (3) units of alcohol each day, while men are advised to consume more than three (3) or four (4) units of alcohol each day.
The team behind the project informed that the newly developed app has another purpose too. It’s meant to also counteract the use of apps such as “Let’s Get Wasted!” which promote alcohol consumption with the help of drinking games.
The invention was first described in the journal BMJ Innovations, and the app is currently available to download for both iOS systems as well as Android systems.