Embracing Preventive Care and Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Embracing Preventive Care and Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Embracing Preventive Care and Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder, Have you ever searched, “Am I an alcoholic?” Perhaps you’ve taken an online quiz or consulted a list of probing questions about your drinking habits. The reality is you might be asking the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself, “Would my life be better without alcohol?” Opening yourself up to a new kind of dialogue, free from shame and judgment, may move you closer to seeking preventive healthcare and treatment so you can make some positive changes.

The impacts of alcohol can be devastating—not just for individuals, but for families and entire communities. Recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reveal the staggering toll of alcohol abuse, with approximately 88,000 people dying annually from alcohol-related causes. But the good news is that preventive care and treatment can make all the difference.

Health insurance companies can encourage early intervention and provide essential preventive healthcare support for those dealing with alcohol-related challenges. Here’s some important information on the impacts of alcohol and how to seek support.

The myths about alcohol

Myths about alcohol’s preventive health benefits can mislead people into thinking that drinking is risk-free or even beneficial:

  • Myth: Alcohol reduces stress and anxiety. While it might initially feel like alcohol helps you unwind, it can increase anxiety and stress the following day. Using alcohol to cope with stress can lead to increased tolerance, requiring more alcohol for the same effect, which can lead to alcohol problems​.
  • Myth: Coffee can sober you up after heavy drinking. Drinking coffee might make you feel more alert, but it doesn’t reduce blood alcohol levels. The best way to sober up is to allow your body time to metabolize the alcohol. Relying on coffee can create a false sense of sobriety, leading to poor decisions like driving under the influence.
  • Myth: Drinking only on weekends is not harmful. Heavy drinking, even if only on weekends, can still be dangerous. For men, consuming more than 14 drinks per week, and for women, more than 7 drinks per week is considered heavy drinking and can increase the risk of health issues like heart disease, stroke, and liver disease.
  • Myth: Alcohol only affects the liver. Alcohol impacts various organs and body systems, including the heart, kidneys, and brain. It can also lead to an increased risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure, and mental health issues​. Becoming aware of these preventive healthcare facts can help you make more informed choices about alcohol, perhaps even giving you pause the next time you reach for that glass of wine.

The shifting perceptions of alcohol

It may be hard to believe, but up until recently, the media often portrayed alcohol as a healthy drink option, highlighting potential benefits like reduced risk of heart disease and improved social engagement. How many times have you seen alcohol use in a positive light on TV, movies, and music videos? It’s a toxin that’s frequently glamorized but rarely acknowledged for its negative effects. Thankfully, the narrative has shifted, as new research shows that the potential risks of alcohol consumption, like increased risks of cancer and other health problems, might outweigh any benefits.

New Gallup polling reflects this mind shift among U.S. adults, with a growing number seeing even moderate drinking—defined as one or two drinks a day—as detrimental to any preventive healthcare measures they might be engaged in. The survey, conducted in July 2023 with over 1,000 adults across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., found that 39% of respondents believe moderate drinking poses health risks, marking an 11-point increase from 2018. This shift is particularly noticeable among 18- to 34-year-olds, where the perception of moderate drinking as unhealthy surged from 34% in 2018 to 52% in 2023—a striking 18-point jump.

These changing views show up in consumer behavior, with a growing interest in mocktails and bars catering to sober-curious patrons. This trend aligns with updated guidelines from health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), which now suggest that no level of alcohol consumption is safe. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the dangers of alcohol abuse, with CDC data showing a 26% increase in alcohol-related deaths during the pandemic’s first year.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a condition marked by an inability to control or stop alcohol use despite adverse consequences. It’s the broader term for what used to be called “alcohol abuse,” “alcohol dependence,” or “alcoholism.” People with AUD can develop changes in their brains that increase the risk of relapsing into heavy drinking. The good news is that most people with AUD, no matter how bad it seems, can improve with treatment.

Preventive healthcare measures and treatment for AUD

If you or someone you know is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder, a variety of treatment options are available, and the best approach depends on individual needs. Here are some standard treatment options for AUD​:

  • Medications: FDA-approved drugs can help manage alcohol dependence. These medications work by reducing cravings or causing unpleasant effects when alcohol is consumed, which can help prevent relapse.
  • Behavioral Therapies: Options include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps identify and change thought patterns leading to heavy drinking, and Motivational Enhancement Therapy, which aims to boost motivation to change drinking behavior.
  • Support Groups: Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), SMART Recovery, and The Luckiest Club offer peer-based support and a sense of community to help those recovering from AUD. Support groups are a valuable resource for long-term recovery.
  • Residential Treatment Programs: For severe cases of AUD, residential programs offer a structured environment with individual and group therapy, support groups, and educational lectures.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient programs provide counseling and medication support without requiring a residential stay. This option is often used for less severe cases or after detox.

In addition to these treatment options, lifestyle changes and a strong support system are crucial. Engaging in healthy habits like regular physical activity, managing stress, and avoiding social situations that trigger drinking can contribute to successful recovery​.

Do insurance programs cover preventive care and treatment for alcohol use disorder?

Employer-sponsored health plans like Curative often prioritize preventive care, providing comprehensive coverage for AUD treatment​​. Baseline Visits allow you the space to share honestly about your drinking habits. Curative pairs you with a Care Navigator, who can sensitively discuss the availability of AUD treatment, emphasizing that if AUD impacts you or someone in your family, Curative has resources to help, like Pelago.

Pelago is a virtual clinic specializing in personalized substance use management. It is designed to help individuals reduce or quit alcohol, tobacco, or opioid use. The app helps you track your progress during recovery, serving as a companion tool as you monitor your journey toward sobriety. Pelago care is available for anyone on the plan, including you, your spouse, or your children.

To see all disclaimers, please view them here.

About Curative

Do you love using your health benefits? At Curative, we want you to! We bring better health to our members through affordability, engagement, and simplicity.  With one monthly premium, Curative members have access to all kinds of preventive care treatments, and you pay:

  • No copays
  • No out-of-pocket fees
  • No cost for preferred prescriptions
  • No deductibles for care within our network.

No…really. All that “nothing” certainly adds up to a lot. Curative is changing the way we view health insurance. For more information on our health insurance, visit our members page.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *