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How Silicon Valley Is Getting Sober

Alcohol addiction has long swept the nation, and Silicon Valley is far from exempt from its spread. An American Journal of Public Health study revealed that binge drinking rose by 28 percent from 2002 to 2012 in Santa Clara County—where both Google and Apple are headquartered—and by 21.9 percent and 19.3 percent in San Mateo County and San Francisco, respectively. In fact, Silicon Valley has the highest rate of binge drinking in California.

But while heavy drinking is rampant in the home of the tech industry, that same industry is inventing accessible, science-based solutions to curb excessive alcohol use.

Because the thing is, over-drinking can impact nearly anyone who partakes in alcohol. Everyday people might find that they are simply drinking more often than they used to—or perhaps have even developed a habit of regular binge drinking that is impacting other areas of life. Either way, alcohol dependence isn’t an “all-or-nothing” issue. It exists on a spectrum and can be stopped before you hit rock-bottom. Here’s how Silicon Valley is helping to make that possible.

Silicon Valley is inventing solutions to problem drinking
The San Francisco skyline / Photo by Jakub Gorajek for Unsplash

Telemedicine

Telemedicine presents a confidential and modern way to treat alcohol addiction. It’s an ideal solution for people who are too busy to go see a doctor every week or every month, or for those who live too far away from an addictions specialist to receive quality treatment.

Studies indicate that web-based telemedicine is effective at reducing alcohol consumption. A Drug Alcohol Dependence study revealed that telephone-based counseling helped alcohol-dependent participants abstain from alcohol at a significantly higher rate than traditional treatment methods—57.1 percent compared to 46.7 percent—and at a much lower cost to boot.

With telemedicine, you don’t need to live in a tech hub to get cutting-edge treatment. Ria Health is one Silicon Valley-based company that uses telemedicine to treat problem drinking across the country. Ria members can access a team of medical experts and certified recovery coaches confidentially and remotely, via smartphone, 24/7. The Ria team helps you every step of the way in meeting your goals, whether you want to drink less or stop drink completely. With Ria, you can receive world-class treatment without leaving your home.

Science-Backed Alternative Techniques

Alcoholics Anonymous, which promotes abstinence from alcohol, was founded in 1935. The scientific community’s understanding of addiction has progressed tremendously in that time.

In the last few decades, addiction experts have developed new, more effective techniques to treat problem drinking. These new methods include medication-assisted treatments, one-on-one behavioral change therapy, group peer support, and app-based tools to track patient progress. Here are a few ways these alternative methods can help:

  • Medication-assisted treatments. To reduce alcohol cravings, medication-assisted treatments like naltrexone, baclofen, and gabapentin have proven effective. Naltrexone, in particular, is effective in blocking brain receptors that facilitate the pleasure and reward from drinking alcohol. Typically, the less pleasure you receive from alcohol, the less you’ll end up drinking.
  • One-on-one behavioral change therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you identify negative thoughts or soothing behaviors that trigger your craving for alcohol. For many people, it’s been effective at reducing alcohol dependence and helps you develop goals and coping mechanisms for drinking less.
  • Group peer support. Peer support, especially when coupled with medication, can help you increase self-awareness and enhance your sense of purpose, which all play an important role in changing negative behaviors. You can meet with people who have had similar struggles with alcohol in-person, or online via Facebook or Reddit.
  • App-based tools. You can change your behavior and relationship with alcohol with confidence—and without breaking the bank—thanks to the Internet. Smartphone apps, including the Ria Health app, can connect you with online support groups, counselors, and your medical team. You can also use apps to help track and reduce your alcohol consumption. Ria, for example, gives its members complimentary bluetooth breathalyzers to confidentially record their blood alcohol content, and creates graphs and charts to track their progress.

Workplace Drinking Bans

Problem drinking is steadily increasing in the U.S., and it’s been supported for years by some of the biggest tech companies. Companies like GitHub, Yelp, and Uber have kegs in their offices; employees can drink for free. But alcohol’s presence in the workplace isn’t all fun and games. Not only can having alcohol in the office perpetuate problem drinking, but studies have shown a significant link between heavy drinking (particularly heavy-drinking male officemates) and workplace sexual harassment (particularly toward women).

But some tech companies are taking a stand to stop this epidemic where they can. Companies like Salesforce and Zenefits have taken a stand against once-popular office drinking cultures and prohibited drinking at work. In a company-wide 2017 memo, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said the company views alcohol as a drug, and that it’s unfair to have alcohol in the office when some employees don’t want it.

While the work culture still has a ways to go to eradicate office drinking completely, bans like these are a step in the right direction to help people sober up in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Worried You Drink Too Much?

Getting the help you need to reduce or eliminate alcohol dependence is a phone call or text away. You can take advantage of the different resources available to you by connecting with Ria Health. Ria Health helps individuals in Silicon Valley and beyond reduce their alcohol consumption via medication-assisted treatments delivered through telemedicine. You can learn more about Ria and even get started today.

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