Frequently Asked Questions
Ready to change your relationship with alcohol?
What is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), commonly referred to as “alcoholism,” is a condition that can manifest differently in different people. Typically, it means that you find yourself unable to control the quantity of alcohol you consume. You may obsessively think about getting your next drink, continue to drink alcohol despite clear evidence that alcohol is creating problems in your life, or experience withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly decrease or stop drinking. AUD ranges from mild to severe, and mild AUD can quickly intensify. Early treatment is essential to prevent serious consequences to your health, career, and family.
How effective is Ria Health’s program?
On average, Ria Health members reduce their drinking by 75 percent after 12 months in the program. The vast majority of our members see an increase in non-drinking days, a decrease in the number of drinks per week, and binge drink much less.
Does your program work for everyone?
While most of our members significantly reduce their drinking, there can be no guarantee that any particular member will be successful. Some people find they are unable to tolerate particular medications, while others may not be motivated yet to work on adjusting their drinking patterns. We understand the complexities of managing AUD and provide the latest techniques and tools to help people improve their relationship with alcohol. Learn more about how Ria’s program is different than other treatments for alcoholism, and how our program helps people to stop or reduce their drinking.
I think someone I love should use your program, can you help me?
If someone has recognized they need help, but are afraid that typical treatment options might disrupt their life, work, or relationships, our program may be the right choice for them. Our program is designed to be discreet, and our community is growing quickly.
Though alcohol use disorder (AUD) can result from many factors, part of AUD is due to chemical and biological elements in the brain. Now there are medications, all approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which address these elements and can be effective in helping you reduce your drinking.
We prescribe our patients one (or more) of five medications to reduce alcohol cravings and consumption: naltrexone, acamprosate, topiramate, baclofen, and gabapentin. Naltrexone and acamprosate are FDA-approved for treating alcohol addiction; the others are prescribed “off-label,” and many scientific, peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated their effectiveness at treating AUD. During your initial consultation, your care team will review your medical history to determine which medication or combination is right for you. Learn more about how these medications work.
How do these medications work?
Though they work in different ways, all of these medications help quiet the urge to drink. For example, naltrexone is typically taken before a person chooses to drink alcohol. The result is that the drink provides less pleasure than it did before. Over time, the medication “retrains the brain” so that the urge to drink gradually fades away. And these medications are most effective when treatment combines them with counseling.
What happens if I drink while I’m on the medication?
One medication (disulfiram, or Antabuse) causes nausea and vomiting if a person drinks while using it. Though this medication is still used for some people, newer medications, such as naltrexone and acamprosate, have gentler, less severe reactions. For example, people on naltrexone typically take it an hour before they expect to drink. It may sound counterintuitive, but over time, naltrexone gradually calms the brain, and the urge for alcohol.
Read more about medication for alcoholism
A bluetooth breathalyzer attaches directly to your smartphone. When you breathe into the breathalyzer, it detects the ethanol exhaled and shows your blood alcohol content (BAC). With our system, the breathalyzer keeps a record of the BAC for you to use in the future.
What’s the purpose of breathalyzing?
Behavior modification is a fancy way to say “creating healthy habits.” We are creatures of habit, and research shows that small nudges like taking the stairs or opting for water during meals can make a big improvement to our well-being. Taking a picture of your medication and testing your BAC with the breathalyzer will become a habit that gives your treatment team daily updates on your progress.
Where do I get my breathalyzer?
Included at no additional charge, Ria Health ships every new member a handheld Bluetooth breathalyzer for use with your care plan. When your breathalyzer arrives, take a look at the help video. If you have any problems, contact us at (877) 813-0787 or [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.
My breathalyzer isn’t working. How do I fix it?
There are a few ways to fix breathalyzer connection issues:
- Make sure your batteries are fresh.
- Check if the breathalyzer is on—it should show a blue light. You can turn on the breathalyzer by pressing the button on the side for a couple seconds.
- If your breathalyzer has a screen, check that the breathalyzer is in app mode. Press the silver button for 10 seconds to change the mode the device is in.
- Enable Bluetooth on your mobile device.
- If you installed the BACtrack app (in addition to Ria Health), please uninstall the BACtrack application. The breathalyzer can only function with one app at a time.
- Try clearing data, uninstalling, and reinstalling the app.
- Still having trouble? We’re always happy to help. Contact us at (877) 813-0787 or [email protected].
Ria’s program is available across the United States. Visit our locations page to find out if coverage is available in your state.
Ria Health’s telemedicine program is in-network with several major insurance providers, including Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare/Optum, Oxford, and Beacon Health Options. This means that many of these plans will cover some, or all of the cost of our program. To find out if you’re covered, get in contact with us below, or learn more about insurance coverage for Ria’s program.
It’s important to show compassion, caring, and love, without judgment. Your loved one is already suffering from the effects of alcohol misuse, and needs a friendly ear and encouragement. It’s also crucial to let your loved one know that they aren’t alone in the process—that they have help.
Perhaps your loved one has tried other methods, without success. If someone you love needs a little “leg up” in the process, see our page on new solutions for those with alcohol use disorder.
Is it alright for my loved one to continue drinking?
Ria Health uses a modern approach to problematic drinking called harm reduction (as opposed to abstinence), which uses Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to help people reach their goals with drinking over time. Through MAT, people are able to decrease the amount of alcohol they drink over time. Your loved one may decide that abstinence is the right decision for them after successfully reducing their drinking.
Shouldn’t my loved one stop drinking if we know they have a drinking problem?
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is tricky. Drinking heavily over a period of time—as little as a few months—will change your body’s and brain’s response to alcohol. When someone goes from drinking regularly to complete abstinence, they may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. These problematic symptoms can range from repetitive intrusive thoughts (aka “cravings”), insomnia, tremors, seizures, and many more very uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening problems.
In an attempt to avoid putting your loved one through any unnecessary suffering as they address their drinking habits, our medical team advises clients to start with medication and moderation management techniques as a way of moving toward abstinence or controlled drinking.
Is it a reflection on me that my loved one can’t stop drinking?
Nope, nope, nope. Supporting someone with AUD can be frustrating at times, so please reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed at anytime during this process. You can check out the homepage of the Ria Health app for self-care resources.
Will my loved one have to stay on the medication prescribed in this program indefinitely?
It’s recommended that people who wish to continue drinking moderately also continue taking the medication as prescribed. If your loved one decides to become abstinent, they may no longer need to take the medication.
I don’t want my loved one to drink at all. How can we compromise while they’re part of the Ria Health program?
It’s completely understandable that you want alcohol out of the equation, especially if it’s caused frustration and grief in your relationship. Think of this program like a weight loss or training program. While most people wouldn’t expect someone who’s 40 pounds overweight to just stop eating for a while, it’s common for people to expect those with alcohol problems to just stop drinking (for a while, or forever).
Going through periods of restriction with food or alcohol will actually make cravings more intense and harder to work through. This is why people often fail at both abstinence-based recovery programs and super-restrictive diets.
Instead of focusing on the presence or absence of drinking, help your loved one stay compliant with the treatment plan laid out by the Ria Health medical team. Check out the “Compliance Checklist” below for details about what Ria Health asks of its members.
You can also try to compromise. For example, agree upon a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading that your loved one will try and stay below for the week. If their readings were around, say, 0.1 the week before, a realistic goal would be to stay below 0.09 all week. Creating achievable goals is a crucial part of the Ria Health program.
Ready to learn more about the Ria Health community? You can find stories, audio interviews and written reviews from real members of Ria Health here.
Their experiences provide an authentic perspective on the program’s effectiveness in helping you change your relationship with alcohol.
We encourage our patients to stay in our program for 12 months. This length of time has been shown to allow the body to recover. It’s also been demonstrated that new habits take about 12 months to take root.
What happens after 12 months?
As your recovery stabilizes, you will have a discussion with your care team about the right path forward after graduating from the Ria Health program. They may recommend that you keep taking your medication. In any case, we always encourage you to keep monitoring your relationship to alcohol.
No, all check-ins with our medical team and recovery coaches are done remotely, via our secure, HIPAA-compliant app. Our program is designed to give you the tools to take control of alcohol without disrupting your everyday life.
Ria Health’s team of certified recovery coaches is an integral part of the Ria Health program, working with the medical team to help members build their skills and confidence, so that they can overcome alcohol cravings with medication-assisted treatment (MAT). All of our coaches have the credentials to practice substance abuse counseling in their state of residence. They use evidence-based practices like mindfulness, SMART strategies, motivational interviewing, and other elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to give Ria’s convenient 15-minute check-ins maximum impact. Ria coaches support members on their journey toward freedom from the frustration and shame of alcohol use disorder. All Ria Health coaches have received training in confidentiality, ethics, and boundaries.