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Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction

ready4life Coaching App


Further development, implementation and evaluation of digital coaching for addiction prevention for apprentices

Project manager(s) Severin Haug
Duration 01.2020 - 12.2022
Client / Funding partner(s)

Lungenliga beider Basel, Institut für Suchtprävention Linz, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein

Cooperating partner(s) Pathmate Technologies


Adolescence is characterised by a multitude of biological, psychological and social changes that have a significant impact on the further course of life. These changes enable greater autonomy, development of social relationships as well as physical and social identity. However, they are also accompanied by an increased willingness to take risks, and this at a time when the cognitive functions of the brain, e.g. for emotion regulation, are not yet fully developed. This also increases susceptibility to mental and substance use disorders. Some young people come into contact with addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco or cannabis at an early age and develop abusive or dependent consumption patterns that have negative effects on the brain, family and peer relationships, academic and professional performance. Other adolescents develop low-risk handling of substances due to their resources and show hardly any addictive behaviour. In order to prevent or delay the start of substance use, international reviews have shown that substance-unspecific life skills programmes are particularly suitable for preventing or delaying the start of substance use. These programmes teach social skills and address social influences, for example through advertising or peer groups. Substance-specific interventions based on motivational and cognitive-behavioural principles have proven to be effective in reducing addictive behaviour in people already using drugs.


“Ready4life” is a mobile phone-based programme for the prevention of addiction among young people. The programme takes into account the heterogeneity of adolescent addictive behaviour by promoting life skills on the one hand and reducing risk behaviour on the other, based on motivating and cognitive-behavioural principles. Constructive handling of stress and emotions, resistance to substance use as well as social skills are promoted in an interactive form. Substance users or adolescents with other addictive behaviours such as internet-related disorders receive individualised coaching to reduce high-risk behaviour. The Programme was developed based on the social-cognitive theory and is currently being further adapted by the ISGF in collaboration with the Swiss organization “Lungenliga”, with the inclusion of teachers and adolescents. It is also being implemented and evaluated in all three language regions of Switzerland. Starting in the school year 2020/2021, implementation will take place in Germany and Austria, and will be extended to include cannabis, social media use and online gaming. 


Within the current version of the programme, an individualised competence profile is drawn up based on a survey conducted on a smartphone among apprentices, which shows the participants in which areas they have sufficient resources and in which there is a need for coaching or advice. Based on their risk and resource profile, participants can select two modules from topic-specific programme modules Stress, Social Competence, Tobacco/Nicotine, Cannabis, Alcohol and Social Media & Games and receive coaching for a period of four months through an automated dialogue system, also known as a “chatbot”. The virtual coach motivates the participants to be cautious in their use of addictive substances by providing feedback on current consumption and information in weekly dialogues. Participants also get the chance to the take part in contests and interactive challenges. In a separate chat within the app, regional experts answer personal questions. Young people with high-risk addictive behavior are encouraged to deal with it and motivated to use further assistance. In order to achieve high retention rates, interactive elements such as quiz questions, contests and playful competitions are integrated into ready4life. In addition, teachers at schools receive a risk and resource profile of their school class and suggestions for the implementation of further behavioural and structural activities in the classroom.


The ready4life programme opens up an attractive opportunity to promote life skills and reduce addictive behaviour among young people with different risks and resources in an individualised and interactive way. The current evaluations and studies of ready4life in Switzerland, Austria and Germany enable a continuous development and optimization of the program. 


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