Gamifying sobriety shows promise

Looking to cut back on drinking? There’s an app for that. 

What happened: Swiss researchers who designed a smartphone app aimed at developing healthier drinking habits among students found that, over 12 months, students with a history of “unhealthy alcohol use” drank 10% less per week on average while using the app.  

  • The app gamifies sobriety by having students log their drinks and giving personalized feedback, like telling them how much they drank compared to other people their age.  

Why it matters: This research suggests that habit-tracking apps could help people looking to drink less to actually drink less. A study from last year came to similar conclusions.  

People (particularly youngins) are looking to cool it with the dranks… 

A recent Ipsos poll found that 36% of Canadian drinkers aged 18-34 felt they drink too much. This awareness has resulted in an emerging sober or ‘sober curious’ industry that includes drink-tracking apps, celeb-backed mocktails, boozeless bars, and sobriety influencers.

  • I Am Sober, one of the most popular sobriety apps, saw ~300,000 downloads last month alone, according to mobile analytics research firm Sensor Tower.
  • Beer Canada estimates that sales volumes of non-alcoholic beer are growing between 22-25%, a much faster rate than most alcohol categories. 

Bottom line: The trend to drink less is music to health officials' ears. Health Canada’s updated drinking guidelines advise a maximum limit of only two drinks a week, while the WHO estimates alcohol abuse causes three million deaths annually. —QH