What is it?
Daybreak is a mobile app available on Apple and Android phones. It was designed by clinical psychologists to help individuals reduce their alcohol consumption and better manage the stresses or challenges in their life that increase their alcohol consumption.
It utilises concepts from motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy to encourage users to set goals and experiment with changing their alcohol intake. Through the app you can connect to trained health coaches and other app users. These social connections support you as change your alcohol behaviour.
Normally there is a cost for using the app, but thanks to a deal between the makers of Daybreak (Hello Sunday Morning) and the Adelaide Primary Health Network, Flinders University students (at least those living in Adelaide) can access the program for free 🙂
Why would I use it?
Put simply, you would use this app if you want to reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake.
This might be because:
b) your intake is within normal levels, but you still feel somewhat dependent on alcohol in some way (e.g. drinking in social situations).
c) you are pursuing some specific health goals, which involve cutting down or eliminating alcohol.
How do I use it?
You’ll have to enter some personal information first – email, nickname, country, postcode, date of birth, and password. To take advantage of the PHN deal, make sure to enter a postcode that falls within the Adelaide PHN region (e.g. the university is in Bedford Park, 5042).
Read and accept the community guidelines (basically, don’t be an asshat to other members)
You’ll then get a notification of the PHN deal – that your use of the app is free.
In terms of using the app itself
- You’ll first be invited to share how you are feeling straight away with the community (other app users) – optional
- Then the app will ask you a series of questions about why you are using the app and your alcohol use
- You’ll be invited to write down what success would look like to you (e.g. for some people it might be abstinence, others it might be cutting down)
- You’ll be asked to set a time-frame in which you would like to achieve this outcome.
- Enter your phone details (if you’d like phone coaching)
- Then explore!
There are four main things you can do in the app once you are up and running.
You can post to the community, or read and respond to other people’s posts. Response options include ‘liking’ a post, or leaving a comment. This is for people who get comfort from knowing they are part of a group, who are trying to achieve similar goals, and are motivated by giving and receiving encouragement.
You can read about and try one of the 50+ different experiments loaded into the app. These ‘experiments’ get you test different strategies for managing your alcohol intake (e.g. identifying triggers). You can rate the different experiments, which helps others pick the good ones. You can also schedule experiments into your week, and your phone will notify you when you are due to do one of the experiments. Experimenting with different strategies for reducing alcohol use is central to getting good results.
You can start a conversation with one of the health coaches. This one-on-one support can be vital in helping you stick with the program and better implement the different experiments.
You can access the various different resources that the app recommends if you are looking for additional supports.
Does it work?
According to the site “Daybreak supports tens of thousands of people to substantially decrease their urge to drink and improve associated mental health symptoms after only two weeks in the program. Daybreak delivers an online experience that uses the best available medical science, and technology and data to address behaviour change. The program is unique to the goals and aspirations of each person, determining what treatment works and for whom.”
That sounds amazing!
In reality the data supporting Daybreak is modest. Fortunately they publish the research on their site for you to read. I should note that at the time of writing, there were some web certificate issues that meant accessing the pdf documents led to warnings from my browser about insecure content. I have let them know about this.
In short there is evidence that some users of the Hello Sunday Morning website (which became the app) experienced a number of positive benefits: reduced drinking, changes in attitudes towards drinking and improved health and wellbeing.
Is this enough to definitively say that this app is likely to help you? Probably not, but given it is free and built on sound principles (motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy), I think it is worth a try. It might be the first step you take towards addressing your drinking.
Australia has a pretty strong drinking culture – its embedded into most of our social activities. It is not uncommon as a result to find yourself drinking at objectively or subjectively unhealthy levels.
Daybreak is a positive first step towards addressing your drinking behaviour. Having it on your phone means 24-hour connection to the program, other users, and dedicated health coaches.
If you do give it a try and are willing to provide some (anonymity assured) feedback to me, I’d love to hear it.
Want to comment on this article, or ask me a question about the health and well-being services available to you as a student? Feel free to comment below, abuse me on Twitter (@Dr_Furber), contact me on Skype (search for ‘eMental Health Project Officer Gareth’), or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)