Do you drink at harmful levels and want to try to reduce your drinking?
Our researchers are looking for people to test a new app called 'SWIPE' that aims to help people reduce their alcohol cravings and consumption.
18 percent of Australians aged 18 and over drink at hazardous levels, whilst one in five will experience an alcohol use disorder. Exposure to alcohol-related cues (such as images, sounds and advertisements featuring alcohol) is known to induce cravings which can lead to further alcohol use. This poses a particular challenge for individuals trying to cut-down or abstain, as alcohol-related cues are largely unavoidable in Australian society. These alcohol-related cues can subconsciously capture our attention and motivate us to seeking, and subsequently consume alcohol, and this tendency is called a ‘Cognitive Bias’.
We and others have shown that a form of computerised "brain-training" called Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) can reduce these impulses and reduce the likelihood of alcohol consumption after just four 15-minute training sessions. However, this intervention is currently only offered in face-to-face treatment, and so is inaccessible to the thousands of Australians who choose not to, or are unable to access face-to-face treatment.
To address this gap, Turning Point researchers have developed “SWIPE”, a new smartphone app which aims to deliver personalised-CBM freely to users across Australia, regardless of time or place. We are currently recruiting 500 people who want to reduce their drinking, to study whether SWIPE is feasible, acceptable to users, and whether it helps people drink less alcohol and on fewer days. Users repeatedly ‘swipe away’ pictures of the specific alcoholic beverages they most wish to avoid drinking, and swipe images towards themselves that represent positive alternative activities they wish to engage in more frequently (e.g., hobbies, recreational activities, friends, family, pets, etc.). In this open-label pilot study, participants complete at least 2 sessions of CBM each week for 4 weeks.
The development of a personalised, smartphone-delivered CBM app is a world-first and holds the potential to benefit the many thousands of Australians who consume alcohol at hazardous levels. Given its low-cost and scalability, SWIPE could offer a convenient, anonymous and readily available tool to help reduce alcohol cravings and consumption at times when individuals need it most.
Learn more about this project
The trial is registered by the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR).
- Pushing away your poison: brain training provides hope for beating addiction
- Manning V., Piercy H., Garfield J., Lubman D. I. (2020). Personalized Approach Bias Modification Smartphone App (“SWIPE”) to Reduce Alcohol Use Among People Drinking at Hazardous or Harmful Levels: Protocol for an Open-Label Feasibility Study.