The ill-effects of such behaviour extend to binge drinking, health and wellbeing issues, assaults, drink driving leading to car crashes, and many other problems.
Technology can help to overcome behavioural problems by providing a subtle and more personalised solution. New smartphone apps can provide real-time intervention. They allow people to get the right information at the right time regarding their drinking habits.
Popular alcohol control apps include Stop Drinking with Andrew Johnson (for Apple or Android), which relies on relaxation and hypnotism, and other apps that simply count the intake of alcohol (Sobriety Counter is one such app for Android).
This type of anonymous and indirect interaction can also help people with a drinking problem who may be reluctant to visit rehabilitation or treatment centres. In this way technology, can facilitate a change in behaviour through persuasion but not coercion.
Known as persuasive technology, the term was coined by Stanford University researcher BJ Fogg. Such technologies have already helped with other problems, such as obesity, bullying and racism, by motivating people, providing knowledge, supporting decision-making and ultimately facilitating behaviour change.
The importance of persuasive technology in mitigating the harmful side effects of alcohol and other bad habits is growing.
While there is no official government ranking of apps, here is a review of some from techguide.
There are two main types of strategies prevalent in these apps. Some used motivation and others self-control, to help reduce or monitor alcohol intake. The former rely on different persuasive strategies such as praise and reward mechanisms, social interaction with avatars, competitions, reminders and notifications, etc.
Self-control apps mostly rely on users to monitor and manage their intake by providing information, such as blood alcohol concentration levels. Self-control apps do not explicitly inform the user when their alcohol intake crosses a level of high risk.
So if you’re concerned about your alcohol intake, or just want to get a reading on it, try downloading an app and give it a test drive.