In another milestone for Ria Health, we are pleased to share this article, recently published in The New York Times. The focus is on the millions of people in the United States suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), and the small number of those who seek treatment.
AUD: The Scope of the Problem
Reasons for not seeking help are diverse. Stigma is a big one: Many people are still ashamed of having struggles with alcohol. For others, cost of treatment is an obstacle. And for still others, the time required for treatment programs is difficult for many people who need to maintain their work, family, and community commitments.
Further, the article highlights modern medications that can help reduce craving for alcohol. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of these medications, despite evidence that they have been proven to help many people. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health noted that only 1.6% of Americans suffering from AUD had received a prescription for naltrexone, disulfiram, or other FDA-approved medications.
Today There Are More Options
Many people think that the only options for alcohol treatment are rehab or community-based, 12-step programs like Alcoholic Anonymous. While either of these can be effective, rehab is often quite expensive and requires time away from work and family, and many people may not find a fit with AA.
Studies suggest that a major barrier to people seeking treatment is that they believe that abstinence is their only option. For some, this is true: abstinence should be the only option. For example, pregnant women should avoid alcohol, as should anyone with mandated abstinence as part of a work or court-involved intervention for harmful drinking.
But studies show that people who have milder forms of alcohol use disorder can improve their mental health and quality of life—as well as their blood pressure, liver health, and other aspects of their physical health—by lowering their alcohol intake without quitting alcohol entirely.
Looking to the Future
We applaud the bravery of people who take action, and the power of people who share their experience to reduce stigma. And we are grateful for the impact people have, helping more people through sharing their experience.
Today 17 million Americans struggle with alcohol use disorder, and only 6% receive treatment. Ria Health increases access to convenient, affordable, evidence-based AUD care that meets people where they are in their journey. We are excited about helping stamp out the stigma related to accessing treatment. It’s time to celebrate the success of those who’ve changed their relationship with alcohol.
The New York Times article appeared online on July 12, and in the print edition on July 20.