Free App Can Help Hep C Patients Fight Alcohol Addiction

Free App Can Help Hep C Patients Fight Alcohol Addiction

PrimroselogoPrimrose Healthcare, a hepatitis C virus (HCV) management software company in Phoenix, Ariz., recently launched a mobile device alcohol application (app) designed to aid hepatitis C patients who struggle with alchohol abuse.

The app, called “Primrose Step Away: Mobile Intervention for Alcohol Addiction,” provides robust tools and resources to personally assist users through the process of changing drinking behaviors and recovering from alcohol addiction. The app offers the structure needed to control the urge to drink and enjoy better health and lifestyle.

Primrose1Leveraging mobile technology and powered by Here and Now Systems, the alcohol app provides goal setting, alerts, coaching, and ongoing feedback to better engage and support hepatitis C patients on the journey to alcohol addiction recovery.

With the app, there is no need to wait until the next meeting with a counselor to receive helpful strategies and feedback on your progress. Immediate help is right there on the iPhone.

Primrose Step Away is specifically tailored for individuals with hepatitis C or other liver-related conditions that are exacerbated by heavy alcohol use. It is the result of a collaboration between Primrose Health Care and Here and Now Systems (the developers of the original Step Away). The app is based on decades of research on effective interventional supports against alcohol addiction.

“The app addresses a need for an approach to hepatitis C treatment that focuses on the overall health of the patient, including comorbidities or any substance abuse issues that may be present”, said Henri Cournand, CEO of Primrose Healthcare, in a press release.

Primrose3Alcohol abuse is often a life and death matter, especially for hepatitis C patients who already have a compromised liver function. About 88% of liver-related events or in-hospital deaths occur in patients with chronic alcohol abuse disorders or severe comorbidities, according to the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL). Nevertheless, many of the estimated 3.5 million people in the U.S. infected with HCV continue to struggle with alcohol abuse and are in dire need of support to change.

Leveraging mobile technology, the Primrose Step Away app provides an extra layer of support outside of counseling sessions and support groups, at the very moment when alcohol urges occur. With the app’s added support, patients can take an immediate step toward stopping the urge to drink.

The Primrose Step Away app is designed to enhance awareness of drinking and related problems, assist in-goal setting, and help manage addiction triggers using in-the-moment tools.

App users initially build a profile that allows it to provide customized interventions. For instance, patients record days and times when they typically drink, and the app can send them alerts and encouragement to do something different besides drinking during those particular times. The app can also help users manage alcohol cravings wherever and whenever they occur.

The app checks in with the patient daily, providing a weekly progress report that can be shared with friends, family members, or healthcare providers. The app also notifies the patient when goals have been achieved (such as the amount of days sober), and it encourages rewards for meeting the goals.

Patients who stopped drinking saw a 29%  reduction in the risk for either a liver-related event or in-hospital death, compared to those who continued to drink, according to the EASL study.

DulinPPrimrose2“The app was developed based on decades of research on effective interventions and our research into its effectiveness has been very promising,” said Patrick Dulin, PhD, founder and director of Here and Now Systems and an associate professor in the Clinical and Community Psychology PhD. Program, University of Alaska. “People who used the prototype app for only six weeks cut down the days they spent engaged in heavy drinking by 60% and reduced their overall number of drinks consumed by over 50%”.

Dulin conceived the idea for Step Away and has been in charge of research and development since 2008.

“Managing substance abuse issues is truly an important part of a holistic hepatitis C management program,” Dulin said.

For physicians, the app provides a valuable resource that can help begin the process of bridging the gap between behavioral health and primary physical care. Gastroenterologists can prescribe the Primrose Step Away app as an additional resource to behavioral health-oriented services, such as a psychiatrist or alcohol addiction support group. Physicians can also be involved in monitoring patient’s use of the app, and providing encouragement during follow-up visits.

CournandH“Everyone has a phone these days and it makes sense to leverage mobile technology in caring for patients”, Cournand said.

Funding for development and testing of a prototype version of Step Away was provided by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The prototype version, called the “Location-Based Monitoring and Intervention System for Alcohol Use Disorders (LBMI-A)” was pilot tested with a group of heavy drinkers who met the DSM V criteria for struggling with an alcohol use disorder.

Twenty-eight research participants, most who expressed keen interest in reducing their alcohol consumption, were tested on numerous variables both before and after using the LBMI-A. They used the app for six weeks.

Results indicated that overall alcohol consumption dropped by more than 50%, and that heavy drinking days decreased by more than 60%. Heavy drinking days are defined by more than five drinks per day for men and four drinks per day for women.

The free Primrose Step Away app can be downloaded at The Apple App Store:

The app requires iOS 8.3 or later and is compatible with Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Primrose Healthcare
Here and Now Systems
European Association for the Study of the Liver
Apple iTunes Store

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