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Alcohol use disorder: facts, figures, and how SilverCloud® by Amwell® can help

Every year in April, Alcohol Awareness Month is dedicated to bringing awareness to the dangers associated with alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder. The National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) works to educate the public on the causes and treatment of substance abuse. This month, we focus on understanding alcohol use disorder and how people can get support through digital mental health.  

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism nearly 15 million Americans over the age of 18 have an alcohol use disorder and since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the RAND Corporation reports that Americans are drinking 14% more in relation to their stress.

What is “alcohol use disorder?”

Alcohol use disorder, as described by the Mayo Clinic, is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or drinking, continued use of alcohol although it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, and having withdrawal-type symptoms when rapidly decreasing alcohol consumption or stop drinking.

Although drinking in moderation is often viewed as a harmless activity – toasting a friend, celebrating a holiday, or enjoying a drink on vacation – the reality is that no level of alcohol use can be considered risk-free. While withdrawal symptoms often don’t affect those who have an alcohol use disorder, they will often experience other fall-out symptoms that affect their day-to-day lives. Oversleeping, chronic tardiness for work or other responsibilities, forgetfulness, being argumentative with loved ones, and the inability to practice self-care routines are all signs that alcohol could be negatively affecting one’s life.

Alcohol use by the numbers

Seeking treatment

Often, those who struggle with an alcohol use disorder will have made several attempts to cut down their usage but will have been unsuccessful in doing so. The SilverCloud® Space from Alcohol program allows participants to look at their relationship with alcohol, reflect on their patterns, and determine if they need (or want) to reduce or eliminate alcohol from their lives.  Our program focuses on building awareness around high-risk situations and triggers, while helping to build strategies to identify and cope with triggers. These strategies will help participants increase a sense of ownership and responsibility over their decisions.

Our Space from Alcohol program offers both Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to empower participants to take control of their alcohol use in a confidential, judgement-free space.

A program such as the alcohol use program via SilverCloud is another tool in the box to help patients with several aspects around alcohol use: it's a great educational tool that includes definitions for levels of alcohol consumption, what constitutes problematic use, as well as how to address alcohol use that's already problematic.

Mary-Anne Kowol, MD Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship Director and Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Medical College of Wisconsin.