Scientific evidence combined with new health insurance coverage now enable a chronic illness management approach to the treatment of alcohol use disorders (AUDs), including regular monitoring of blood alcohol content (BAC), as a useful indicator of disease control. Recent technical advances now permit many different types of remote, real-time monitoring of BAC. However, there is no body of research to empirically guide clinicians in how to maximize the clinical potential of remote BAC monitoring.
As an initial step in guiding and supporting such research, the manufacturer of one remote BAC monitoring system sponsored a group of experienced clinicians and clinical researchers to discuss 8 issues that generally affect remote, clinical BAC monitoring of “adults in outpatient AUD treatment.”
The expert panel unanimously agreed that remote BAC monitoring for at least 12 months during and after the outpatient treatment of AUD was a clinically viable deterrent to relapse. There was also consensus that positive test results (ie, recent alcohol use) should lead to intensified care and monitoring. However, there was no agreement on specific types of clinical intensification after a positive test. The panel agreed that sharing positive and negative test results with members of the patient support group was helpful in reinforcing abstinence, yet they noted many practical issues regarding information sharing that remain concerning. Significant differences within the panel on several important clinical issues underline the need for more clinical and implementation research to produce empirically-supported guidelines for the use of remote BAC monitoring in AUD treatment.