Research Reveals How Mobile Technology Can Help Quit Smoking

Technology has become so ubiquitous that it seems to permeate almost every aspect of one’s life. Now, scientists are utilizing the power of technology to prevent people from relapsing after quitting smoking. A recent study has confirmed that a smartphone app can prevent people from resuming smoking.

A smartphone-based technology, developed by Michael Businelle, Ph.D., an associate professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and director of the Mobile Health core at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, may help people in providing real-time treatment for tobacco cessation, especially at a period when they have a risk for relapse.

The conventional tobacco cessation researches are mostly conducted in clinical settings where patients have to recall thoughts or emotions that triggered relapse. This method of data collection has limitations that might not be accurate. Banking on memory is risky. People are unlikely to recall the exact thoughts and emotions experienced earlier.

Smartphone more apt for data collection

Businelle felt that a smartphone can help get data more accurately that would eventually help in curbing relapses among smokers. As part of the study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in December 2016, Businelle recruited smokers who were socio-economically weak and were looking for smoking cessation programs. He asked them to answer questions several times a day through smartphones. The motive behind this was to ascertain if the reported factors for smoking relapses were more when lapses were imminent compared with moments when it was not so.

The findings revealed that a lapse risk estimator, comprising six questions, recognized 80 percent smoking relapse risk within four hours of the first lapse. The six questions the respondents had to answer were — an urge to smoke, recent alcohol consumption, stress, a motivation for cessation, talking with someone who is smoking and availability of cigarettes.

App can motivate people to stay away from cigarettes

The findings would help in promoting smartphone technologies as a means to help people quit smoking and remain sober. “This research may pave the way for development of smartphone-based smoking cessation treatments that automatically tailor treatment content in real-time based on presence of specific lapse triggers,” said Businelle.

The app can also motivate people to stay away from cigarettes by reminding them of the futilities of smoking and that it is only an urge that will soon pass away, said Businelle. The app could help in making people realize that smoking might be pleasant at that moment but it could make them feel worse later. This can be especially helpful when a person experiences a greater urge to smoke and finds it irresistible to stay away from lighting one.

Businelle said that these kinds of approaches can be of greater help to those who do not have access to standard smoking cessation programs. Delivering tailored messages through a smartphone app in real time can be “cost-effective, fruitful and extremely disseminable,” the study observed.

If such an app is successful in preventing smoking relapses, it will open the way for many more such apps in the future to help prevent substance abuse relapses.

Dealing with substance abuse

Substance abuse is a malady that needs to be tackled at the earliest, lest withdrawal symptoms become more painful and the recovery process an arduous one. An early intervention not only minimizes the probability of relapses, it also ensures a seamless treatment procedure.

If you have a loved one struggling with any substance abuse problem, call at Texas Substance Abuse Helpline to know about the best therapies for substance abuse in Texas. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866–971–2658 to avail quality treatment for substance abuse in Texas for a long-term recovery.

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