Blanchard Case Study: Addressing Alcohol-Related Triggers with Real-Time Alcohol Monitoring

Blanchard Case Study: Addressing Alcohol-Related Triggers with Real-Time Alcohol Monitoring
March 2, 2020
|   updated:
March 12, 2024


The Blanchard Institute provides an empathetic and accepting atmosphere where individuals who suffer from mental health and substance use disorders receive progressive and holistic treatment.  Their program, cultivated through an evidence-based treatment model, provides the treatment, education, and resources to individuals, families, and their communities that are necessary to reestablish a solid foundation to live fulfilling, healthy lives.

The Blanchard Institute emphasizes the importance of excellence and focuses on family when helping their clients with alcohol and other substance use disorders. With a commitment to flexibility, transparency, and ridding the stigma of substance abuse, The Blanchard Institute understands that it is important for clients to stay connected with their treatment team and loved ones in order to address potential return to use, without compromising freedom.

The Challenge

Unlike other substances, alcohol can be very difficult to avoid because of how common it has become in everyday society. A study the Journal of Political Sciences and Public affairs provides evidence that alcohol supply has an impact on alcohol consumption . The more alcohol that is available, the more people will consume it. This presents a problem for people in recovery from Alcohol Use Disorder. “Alcohol is such a prevalent part of our culture,” says Ward Blanchard, Founder and CEO of The Blanchard Institute. “This makes it impossible for clients to avoid triggers in the same way they may be able to do with other substances.”

In order to provide excellent care for their clients, The Blanchard Institute needed to be able to know when a client returns to use in real-time in order to identify triggers and intervene as necessary. Their current options for detecting alcohol either did not have this real-time aspect or were too costly to be feasible. “Standard point of care urine testing does not reflect recent alcohol use, while full confirmation lab panels that do are quite expensive,” explains Ward Blanchard. The current technology available made it difficult for Ward and the Blanchard team to “create wraparound accountability” causing “missed important windows where [they] could clinically intervene.” The Blanchard team needed a real-time, convenient, and affordable alcohol monitoring solution that would allow them to stay connected with the clients.

The Solution

To address the problem of being able to identify triggers and intervene in a timely manner, The Blanchard Institute introduced Soberlink. “We have used Soberlink since the inception of our program 3 years ago,” says Ward Blanchard.  “We chose it due to the personal experience of our administration with use of Soberlink monitoring in their own recovery journeys and understanding its value and efficacy from that perspective.”

Soberlink consists of a portable breathalyzer that is wirelessly connected to an automated Healthcare portal that sends real-time results and comprehensive reports. No other alcohol detection or monitoring system has the capabilities of Soberlink which include facial recognition, tamper detection, and Advanced Reporting—which uses artificial intelligence to display test results in an easy-to-read calendar format. The Blanchard Institute’s team members who used Soberlink in their own personal lives understood how important accountability can be during recovery. Soberlink provides a convenient and easy way to have this accountability without being invasive. As the experts in alcohol monitoring technology, Soberlink continually innovates to keep their system at a level of excellence that meets The Blanchard Institute’s standards. “

“Soberlink allows clients to be placed in the least restrictive level of care while processing therapeutic goals and meeting strategic outcomes,” says Ward.

“Soberlink has assisted us in providing clients in an outpatient level of care with the accountability needed to support implementation of new recovery behaviors,” explains Ward. “It has been a strategic accountability tool for monitoring outside of business hours.” Soberlink also aligns with The Blanchard Institute’s focus on family, as it allows the client’s family members and loved ones to receive the real-time results and reports as well. “It has helped us support realignment of family systems,” says Ward. Soberlink helps the client and family to focus on changing behaviors rather than focusing on pathology.

Even with the prevalence of alcohol in society, Soberlink’s real-time nature allows the Blanchard Institute to intervene as necessary to minimize the return to use. “There have been quite a number of instances where Soberlink has helped us shorten a window of recurrent use and intervene to connect our clients with needed supports to get back on track with sobriety,” says Ward.  “It has also been helpful in identifying patterns of behavioral drift in behavior, such as failure to complete tests or meet required test windows and highlight these with clients to aid in sustaining consistency with new recovery behaviors.”

Ward remembers a specific client who benefited from Soberlink’s alcohol monitoring technology. “We recently had a client who had attended several residential programs and had been unable to sustain sobriety fairly immediately after discharge.  She engaged with us at the PHP level of care and even began connecting in the AA community, but would ultimately continue drinking nightly even with treatment and community support.  She was unable to manage impulses and cravings without external accountability.  She began Soberlink, and from that point forward was able to use the knowledge of her coming tests as a tool to reset and re-frame her thinking when experiencing cravings and urges, leading to her preparing now to celebrate a full year of sobriety.”


Together, The Blanchard Institute and Soberlink have been able to help many clients change their behavior to achieve lasting recovery. “Clients have been able to achieve longer windows of time without drinking,” says Ward. “We have been able to keep more clients in a lower, less restrictive level of care and provide them with the tools needed for success rather than referring to residential care, improving program retention and completion rates.”

Soberlink and The Blanchard Institute will continue to focus on excellence and family to help clients succeed in their recovery goals, and to rebuild trust between clients and loved ones. “The use of Soberlink… has led the families of our clients to consistently share that it provides an added sense of security and peace of mind,” says Ward. “They appreciate the accuracy, where there is no confusion around what is happening.  Parents have shared increased comfort with trusting loved ones to re-assume responsibilities within the family, including around caring for children.”

About the Author

Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.

Learn More About Soberlink

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.