When it comes to Americans, heavy drinking has become a part and a parcel of their everyday life. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 86.4 percent of people above 18 years of age admitted to consuming alcohol at some point in their lifetime. Moreover, 26.9 percent adults were reportedly engaged in binge drinking in a month prior to the survey.
Although a number of policies and campaigns have been launched in the United States to combat the issue, it is yet to be seen whether these measures are effective in eradicating alcoholism from the society. Meanwhile, people can adopt certain alternative ways to wage a war against alcoholism and lead a sober life. To enable self-management of the hazardous drinking habit, an American-designed smartphone app, known as “step away,” has been launched in New Zealand with a new interface and design. Step away, however, has been helping Americans for years to control their problem drinking.
The feasibility grant that Natalie Walker, the University of Auckland’s Honorary associate professor, has received from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) will be used to determine whether giving access to this app can reduce the problem of alcohol abuse among the hazardous adult drinkers in Auckland.
While the app in the U.S. has been an effective medium to curb alcohol abuse, the researchers in New Zealand are working in collaboration with the U.S. team to develop something that can work effectively to eliminate alcohol abuse in their country. The app is known to help a user by providing coping strategies, apart from monitoring how often they drink. It also identifies possible “triggers” of alcoholism and gives weekly feedback reports to keep a check on their progress toward sobriety.
Dr. Walker agrees that step away is the only publicly available and evidence-based alcohol- related mobile app, however, it may not give promising results for the New Zealanders. This is because the app contains North American drinking norms and safe drinking guidelines, as well as links to U.S.-based care services.
Professor Kath McPherson, HRC chief executive, said that she is open to introduce the required changes that can support people through this difficult change in their behaviors. Alcohol abuse has been a costly affair for the New Zealanders. “Twenty percent of deaths among 15 to 34-year-olds can be attributed to alcohol, mostly from road injuries, while the cost of alcohol-related harm in New Zealand is about $5.3 billion a year or $14.5 million a day, let alone the human costs to the people affected and their families,” said Professor McPherson.
Dependence on alcohol is a disease that needs treatment. People across the world is facing the problem of alcohol addiction, and countries like U.S. and New Zealand are no different. Only a holistic treatment program can help in treating the addiction and push one to become sober. Mobile applications can also help mainstream treatment by providing a patient the tool to monitor his or her drinking and apply coping strategies to reduce cravings.
Detoxification is the first line of treatment for alcohol problem that helps flush out toxins deposited in the body. Detox also includes a short course of medicine, which helps prevent withdrawal symptoms following cessation. However, the procedure should be conducted in a specialized facility instead of home under the guidance of a trained medical practitioner.
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