Skip to main content


The system to be tested is named Addiction CHESS (A-CHESS) and is based upon the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS). A-CHESS will be delivered through a smart-phone rather than a personal computer and will focus on helping alcohol dependent patients leaving residential care with information and other resources. Our primary hypothesis is that A-CHESS will improve competence, relatedness, and autonomy which will reduce the days of risky drinking over a 12-month period.

The Need

A central characteristic of alcoholism and other addictive behaviors is their chronically relapsing nature. Relapse reduces people's quality of life, puts great strains on family relationships and great burden on society through crime, healthcare costs and reduced productivity. Despite aftercare's potential for reducing relapse, our experience suggests that its implementation is not wide spread. Cost, geographic distance, lack of time and peer support can reduce participation in such programs. Even if people do participate, programming may be inconsistent and participants may not be able to recall material covered or get answers to questions that arise afterward. This project is built around the premise that these barriers can be reduced with computer-based support systems providing consistent, 24 hour, in-home (or anywhere) access.


A-CHESS will offer more widespread access than a personal computer, offer optional audio delivery to improve access for those who have literacy challenges and be enhanced with services tailored to relapse prevention. A-CHESS will offer: 1) communication with peer support groups and addiction experts; 2) timely monitoring to assess risk of relapse, 3) reminders and alerts to encourage adherence to therapeutic goals; 4) individualized addiction-related educational material and tools tailored to the needs of the particular patient, 5) access to selected Internet-based resources and 6) one-touch communication with a care manager. Patients randomly assigned to A-CHESS will learn to use it during the two weeks prior to discharge from residential care.

280 alcohol dependent patients will be recruited from two treatment agencies: AB Health and Recovery Services, Boston, Massachusetts, and Fayette Companies, Peoria, Illinois.

Partners / Participant Sites


Funding Period:
September 30, 2008 - August 31, 2013
Principal Investigators:
David Gustafson Sr., Ph.D
Fiona McTavish


  • Journal of dual diagnosis.
    How Patients Recovering From Alcoholism Use A Smartphone Intervention

    McTavish FM, Chih MY, Shah D, Gustafson DH

  • JAMA Psychiatry
    A Smartphone Application To Support Recovery From Alcoholism: A Randomized Clinical Trial

    Gustafson DH, McTavish FM, Chih MY, Atwood AK, Johnson RA, Boyle MG, Levy MS, Driscoll H, Chisholm SM, Dillenburg L, Isham A, Shah D