The Scoop: CheckUp & Choices is a pioneer in the field of digital therapy and evidence-based programs for alcohol misuse. The team’s research into alcohol and drug use began in 1993, and it has culminated in a clinically valid screening test and online modules geared toward making positive changes to reduce alcohol-related problems. By engaging in the CheckUp & Choices program, people can take control over one aspect of life and see positive effects ripple outward in their relationships, families, and career.
Reid K. Hester, Ph.D., co-founded CheckUp & Choices in 2015 to provide comprehensive support for people who are dealing with alcohol and drug problems. The website offers science-based digital health programs developed over decades of research and clinical trials.
CheckUp & Choices is the culmination of rigorous investigation into the nature of alcohol misuse, behavior modification, and wellness. The team has integrated multiple recovery tools into one digital intervention solution. This high-tech road has been a long time coming.
“Our first Windows program was available in 1995, and the first internet program came out in 2003” Reid told us. “We have continued to evolve and streamline our approach to helping people effect behavior change.”
CheckUp & Choices has also partnered with organizations to identify and reduce substance misuse. Its programs can be applied to individual and group therapy work. Partnering organizations benefit from the website’s clinical expertise and evidence-based protocols.
The website’s assessment and cognitive behavior modules can fit nicely within a larger treatment program, and many professionals have endorsed this intelligent and research-driven platform.
“By referring clients to the site, we reduce the amount of time they spend with clinicians, thereby lowering their fees,” said Dr. Tom Horvath in a Practical Recovery blog post. “If the client can come out of that first session with something to do, while they are in a motivated state, the change process is off to a better start.”
The CheckUp & Choices team employs the latest research, technology, and analytics to help people evaluate their drinking or drug use and find solutions that work for them.
A Free Screening Test Leads Into Evidence-Based Programs
CheckUp & Choices is a scientifically proven program that helps people assess their drinking and find a way to address it. It begins with a free 10-question screening and feedback is provided about their level of risk for or experience of alcohol problems. The quick quiz invites individuals to self-evaluate their drinking and determine whether it’s a problem they would like to change.
The CheckUp is a more in-depth questionnaire that takes about 40 to 45 minutes to complete. A person answers questions about their drinking, any alcohol-related problems, risk factors for further problems, their mood (anxiety and/or depression), and chance of success with moderation if they choose that as a goal of change.
The website uses an algorithm to provide personalized feedback and program recommendations based on the user’s answers.
“People come to us from different places,” Reid explained. “Some folks have already made a decision to change their drinking and are looking for ways to cut back or stop. Others are still thinking about making a change and need help to resolve their own internal motivation.”
CheckUp & Choices can assess an individual’s unique relationship with alcohol and outline strategies to make instrumental and positive changes through either moderation or abstinence.
The CheckUp part of the program is an evaluation that takes about 45 minutes to complete. It is a one-time motivational intervention designed to give objective feedback on an individual’s drinking patterns and provide information regarding the risks and health implications of a drinking problem.
Once a person has decided to make a change, the next step is to engage in the Choices Program, which offers tools and exercise for drinking modification or abstinence. The three-month and 12-month subscriptions utilize cognitive behavior and motivation enhancement strategies to support long-term changes.
By providing personalized feedback, trackers, and customized reminders, CheckUp & Choices can guide individuals on the path toward recovery. Its guided self-help has worked for people as young as 18 and as old as 75. The program is only available in English right now, but the team is working on developing a program track for Spanish speakers.
“Our program is confidential and nonjudgmental,” Reid told us. “We are scrupulous about user privacy. In January, we made backend software upgrades to enhance and maximize confidentiality.”
Having Positive Repercussions in Personal Lives
CheckUp & Choices is an evidence-based organization, and it has a wealth of data to support its digital intervention programs. The team actively solicits feedback and conducts studies that track the program’s effectiveness at inspiring a lasting recovery.
CheckUp & Choices has conducted six randomized clinical trials funded by over $4.8 million in competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The researchers reported an overall 55% drop in drinking quantity, frequency, and intensity among its participants. The study also found people who identified as dependent drinkers reported a 36% decrease in drinking days after completing the program.
The program’s motivational and cognitive behavioral exercises have been proven to help people develop new habits and either modify their drinking habits or stop drinking entirely.
CheckUp & Choices supports a lifestyle change that can help individuals build self-esteem and strengthen relationships. People in recovery often feel empowered to make healthier decisions in their daily life, and that can have a ripple effect on their long-term health and happiness.
“When people reduce their alcohol problems it has a positive impact with their relationships, in their family, with their friends, and at work,” Reid said.
One middle-aged woman wrote to the CheckUp & Choices team to tell her story of recovery. She said she had a history of alcoholism in her family, and she was concerned that her nightly wine drinking was getting out of hand. She took action by engaging in the online modules and tracking her drinking habits.
The woman credited CheckUp & Choices with giving her greater confidence and self-control, and she was able to maintain her progress even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now, instead of channeling her energy into alcohol, she said she has been able to focus on things she loves, including cooking, playing tennis, and spending quality time with her family.
“The feedback we get is heartwarming,” Reid said. “It really shows how people become empowered to make changes and internalize the mindset and habits we teach in the programs.”
CheckUp & Choices: The Power to Change is Already Yours
CheckUp & Choices works effectively as a stand-alone resource and as a complement to face-to-face interventions and support groups. A team of world-class clinical experts have developed online assessments, self-help guides, tracking tools, and informational resources that motivate people to change their drinking and drug use.
Enrolling in the CheckUp & Choices program can have a positive impact on a person’s mental health, and that can improve their relationships and quality of life. The digital programs tackle the underlying issues of substance misuse and provide empathetic tone and approach that has proven effective in clinical trials.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems have been exacerbated with people reporting high rates of binge-drinking as a coping mechanism to reduce stress, anxiety, and isolation. Over the last year, CheckUp & Choices has seen an uptick in interest in drinking moderation and sobriety.
“What we do is helpful if a person is stressed, anxious, and depressed because those negative emotions need to be addressed for a person to moderate drinking,” Reid said. “It’s been a real concern for us, but we also know we’re on the right track in terms of helping people during this most stressful time.”