A new award-winning and cost-effective treatment for alcohol dependence is available, and your service can sign up for an introductory trial. Read about it in December DDN magazine.
It’s not often that something completely different comes along in the field of alcohol treatment. However, in October 2019 a British company won the ‘Breaking the Mould’ Future Enterprise award from Keele University for a new treatment system. If you were designing a new system from scratch, at the very least you would want it to be effective, time saving, easy to use and to offer significant cost savings. For people who are really struggling to break free from addiction perhaps you’d also like it to improve adherence to medication and offer psychological support, every day, wherever that person happens to be. Welcome to the Zenalyser.
We’re looking for clinics to try out the Zenalyser® system at a reduced rate so that we can gather feedback from as many services as possible. The cost advantages of the system are huge – three months of daily Zenalyser® treatment cost just £600, including medication and staff time. Compare that to a single one-hour consultant review, which costs the NHS more than £200, plus over £90 for a nurse and travel fares for the client. Residential rehabilitation, meanwhile, costs around £1,000 per week – much more in private units.
Has anyone used it?
The Zenalyser® has been successfully used in clinics in Shropshire, Gloucestershire and in some parts of the US, and it really shines in high-risk situations. Mothers have been able to prove to the courts that they are both abstinent and complying with treatment, and so have been able to keep their children, while military personnel in locations far from treatment centres and family help have been supported remotely. It has also been possible for alcohol-dependent medical and nursing staff under formal regulatory procedures to remain in their jobs by using the Zenalyser® every day. For people using the system, NHS post-detoxification abstinence rates were 90 per cent over a one-year follow up period, with 100 per cent relapse free (1).
So what exactly is a Zenalyser®?
A Zenalyser® is a dual sensor hand-held breathalyser that detects disulfiram (Antabuse) metabolites and alcohol on a breath sample (2). It connects to a small computer tablet that sends the sample result to a central database. The result is then analysed and automated feedback is given immediately to the client, for example a smiley emoji and the message: ‘Well done, good result’. If a daily breath sample has not been provided a reminder is sent, twice if necessary. Once the patient has blown into the Zenalyser® the result is sent to the clinician by email or SMS, and the clinician is also informed if a test sample has not been given. At any time the treatment team can access the database, view a photo of the client blowing into the Zenalyser®, and send a personalised message back – tips, encouragement, education, appointment review, whatever is helpful.
Why might you want one?
This new system can maintain abstinence from alcohol at an all-in cost of less than £50 per week. For the alcohol dependent client this can be achieved from the comfort of their home, while looking after children, or at work. The Zenalyser® system provides this mix of feedback, psychotherapeutic support, monitoring, and supervision of medication in a process that takes less than one minute per day for the user. The time required for the treating team to view results and provide personal messages of support, information and advice, is about 5-10 minutes a week. The system’s ability to work remotely also greatly reduces the need for face-to-face reviews, so taking more pressure off busy staff.
Want to give it a go?
If you would like to sign up for a trial, receive more information, or have a demonstration of the Zenalyser®, then please contact ZenaMed Ltd via their website www.zenamed.co.uk. For the trial the Zenalyser equipment will be loaned free of charge and you will simply pay £400 for 100 breath tests.
(1) Fletcher K. Disulfiram and the Zenalyser: teaching an old dog new tricks.
Alcohol and Alcoholism (2015)
(2) Fletcher K, Stone E, Mohammad MW et al. A breath test to assess compliance with disulfiram. Addiction. (2006)