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Projects > Addiction CHESS Project (ACHESS)

Addiction CHESS Project (ACHESS)

Developing and testing a computer-based alcohol use disorder recovery system


In this randomized clinical trial, we will develop and test a mobile phone-based relapse-prevention system that offers support to alcohol dependent people when and wherever it is needed. The system to be tested is named Addiction CHESS (ACHESS) and is based upon the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS).

ACHESS 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 ACHESS 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.


ACHESS 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. ACHESS 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
  6. One-touch communication with a care manager.

Patients randomly assigned to ACHESS will learn to use it during the two weeks prior to discharge from residential care.

What is Innovations for Recovery?

We brought together innovative thinkers from the fields of technology and addiction treatment, substance abusers and family members of substance abusers and asked them to design an addiction treatment system built entirely around technology that would be available in the next 10 years.

We took their ideas and created the Innovations for Recovery Visionary Prototype. This Prototype intentionally depicts a very ambitious system - one that is entirely possible but would require a tremendous amount of resources. With ACHESS, we selected the pieces of the Prototype that were realistic, and adapted others until they were manageable.

Partners/Participant Sites


For study specific information and all other inquiries, please contact:

Andrew Isham
CHESS Researcher
Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
(608) 262-8442