Why New Approaches to Alcohol Treatment Are Needed Now More Than Ever

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As the pandemic nears a grim two-year anniversary, it is clear that the need for new approaches to treatment for alcohol use disorder are needed now, more than ever. Since 2019, people are drinking more than ever before. Home delivery of alcohol has increased significantly. And because of anxiety about in-person contact, some people are fearful of traditional rehab or group meetings (like AA), causing a surge in treatment via telemedicine.

two people walking down a futuristic hallway
Photo by Tom Parkes on Unsplash

It is clear that the need for effective, evidence-based treatment is greater than ever. And that treatment needs to be convenient—ideally with limited person-to-person contact. In this article, we’ll make the case for 21st-century alcohol treatments, and how they can better meet the demands of the moment.

As Anxiety and Stress Rise, People Continue to Overdrink

Anxiety and stress are soaring to record levels. Many people are out of work. Those who have jobs are often working from home, sometimes with a spouse and small children on the premises. (One writer recently lamented the lack of “alone time,” given the constant presence of her family.) And millions of people are suffering mental health issues as a result of continuing lock-downs and last-minute protocols. Sometimes things seem to change weekly.

And for some people, the continuing stress means soaring levels of alcohol use, as well. People who formerly drank only with friends now find themselves drinking alone. Those whose nightly ritual meant a single cocktail now find themselves making two, three, or more.

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Shortcomings of Traditional Rehab

Traditional rehab centers may work for some people, but for many others, questions remain. One of the biggest is cost: A month’s stay at an inpatient facility can cost $50,000 or more. And some insurance providers don’t cover rehab.

Plus, like Alcoholics Anonymous, data supporting the effectiveness of rehab is thin on the ground. Of course, if AA works for someone, we support it wholeheartedly. In 2020, the New York Times reported that some studies have affirmed the effectiveness of AA, and it’s less expensive. Similarly, if spending time in a rehab facility gets the job done, bravo all around.

But for many other people, these simply do not work. And when they don’t, the guilt and shame that result can cause people to think, “This isn’t working, so I’m a failure. There must be something terribly wrong with me.” And then they drink even more—a cycle no one wants.

Alcohol Treatment Enters the Digital Age

futuristic image of a human brain
Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash

Now there are modern alternatives to get control of drinking. In the digital age, healthcare professionals have taken a good, hard look at alcohol use disorder (AUD). The result is a wave of new programs, like ours. We affirm a rational approach, based in brain chemistry and biology. Ideally, alcohol treatment should be:

Evidence-based – Our method is rooted in science. We use both medication and counseling—a combination affirmed as effective by the NIAAA, among others.

Affordable – Even out-of-pocket, Ria costs considerably less than traditional rehab. Plus, some of the country’s largest insurance providers now cover our method.

Flexible – Our method works with you—and for you—on your terms, on your time. No showing up for meetings, no strict schedules.

Accessible – All you need to benefit from our method is your smartphone or a laptop. You don’t even need to leave the house. For many people with anxiety about the current state of affairs, or vulnerability due to pre-existing conditions, this is a plus.

Stigma-free – Traditionally, alcohol treatment suffers from enormous stigma. We realize that issues with alcohol are biological. People with AUD are not “weak” or “disturbed.” They simply have a chemical issue in the brain, which modern science can address.

Getting Help with Telehealth During the Pandemic

The rise of telehealth is but one of many profound societal changes that have occurred during the pandemic—in our healthcare system, in our workplaces, in our relationships, in the way we purchase items for daily living. It should not be surprising that our way of looking at alcohol treatment should change as well.

person looking up at a bright galaxy in the night sky
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

We’ve said it over and over: We affirm using whatever method works, to reduce alcohol consumption. For some people, reading the right book is enough, or viewing the right podcast. Other people simply stop. But for millions, myths about addiction—not to mention, societal attitudes—prevent them from seeking and getting treatment they deserve. Repeat: the treatment they deserve, as human beings. An evidence-based problem requires an evidence-based solution.

That’s our mission, and that’s why we’re here for you.

Written By:
Bruce Hodges
New York-based writer, editor, and fundraising consultant with over three decades of experience.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Writer specializing in targeted, informative content. Dedicated to making the abstract accessible.
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