If you want to develop healthier drinking habits to improve your physical and mental wellbeing, you’re not alone. There’s no better time than now to think about making healthier lifestyle choices.
Maybe you’re ready to change your approach to drinking but don’t know where to start. You don’t need to go through the hassle of writing it all down or trying to keep private entries in a journal. VA has developed a free, confidential mobile app, VetChange, that can help you keep track of your drinking more easily.
VetChange can help you set goals, whether it’s to cut back or stop drinking altogether. You can learn more effective, healthier ways to manage PTSD symptoms. This app is not simply just to track drinking habits. It is a holistic self-help tool that provides you with opportunities to explore your own motivations for wanting to change. You can upload photos of important people in your life as part of your “Reasons to Change.”
App helps increase your motivation
The VetChange mobile app is based on the VetChange online program and was developed by VA’s National Center for PTSD and Boston University.
“We originally started with thinking about this intervention for returning Veterans. However, it’s really for anyone who might be using substances or alcohol to cope with the aftermath of any type of trauma,” said Dr. Monica Roy, the program manager for the Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program and Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at VA Boston Healthcare System’s Jamaica Plain Campus.
The latest version of the app was released in 2021 and features a new design, a module for how to manage urges around alcohol use and videos on how to identify urges to drink. It also includes new skills like how to increase your motivation for changing, how to cope with distressing memories and how to manage boredom.
“Just tracking a behavior, self-monitoring a behavior, can help to build awareness of risk factors and actually help to reduce alcohol use,” said Roy.
The right support can make a difference
Although the interactive app is considered a self-help tool, support from your loved ones while using VetChange can go a long way. The app includes a variety of educational materials that you can share with friends or family so they can learn how to help you accomplish your goals.
“I’ve heard family members mistakenly think that if they expose the Veteran to situations where there’s drinking, that will help them get used to it,” said Dr. Marika Solhan, director of the Boston Vet Center. “The app can really help dispel a lot of those myths in ways that help the family member be a better support system.”
The VetChange mobile app is available for download here on Apple or Android devices.