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Oar Health Study Reveals Nearly a Third of Americans Want to Change Their Relationship with Alcohol But Don’t Know How

Oar Health

May 14, 2022

In This Article

  • Survey Methodology
  • About Oar Health
  • Nearly 40% of Americans are at severe or high risk of alcohol misuse, want to drink less, or want to quit.
  • Fewer than 20% of Americans who want to drink less or quit are familiar with FDA-approved medications that can help.
  • Privacy and affordability are top priorities for those seeking treatment today.

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—March 28, 2022—Oar Health, an addiction recovery telehealth platform, today released results from a new survey which revealed gaps in the landscape of alcohol misuse treatment. According to the data, a significant portion of Americans looking to reduce or quit drinking are unaware of proven, effective medication that can help. Full survey results are available at www.oarhealth.com/resources/americans-relationships-with-alcohol.

“It is one of the great modern tragedies that so few people who could benefit from medication-assisted treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder are aware of the safe, effective options that are available,” said Dr. Joshua D. Lee, Professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Oar Health’s Chief Clinical Adviser. “The research is clear: these medications can help people drink less or quit, but only a fraction of people with Alcohol Use Disorder are prescribed a medication indicated for their condition.”

Continued Dr. Lee, “For decades, we have tried but failed to educate patients and prescribers alike. It is a longstanding public health ‘fail’ that these medications are relatively unknown, while Viagra and Prozac are household names.”

Oar Health’s survey found less than 20% of American adults who want to drink less or quit entirely were very or somewhat familiar with disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate – each of which is approved by the FDA to help people reduce or stop drinking. By contrast, 41% of this same group reported familiarity with cholesterol medication atorvastrin (Lipitor) and 48% with depression and anxiety medication sertraline (Zoloft). Naloxone (Narcan), used to treat opioid overdoses, was familiar to 40% of respondents who want to drink less or quit.

The survey results indicate that familiarity with medication-assisted treatment lags other treatment options. A majority of respondents who want to drink less or quit reported being very or somewhat familiar with mutual peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (63%), rehabilitation programs (59%), and therapy, counseling or coaching (54%). However, SAMHSA research has found that less than 10% of people with Alcohol Use Disorder receive treatment of any kind, suggesting that consumers need more information about the full range of options available to them.

Despite low awareness of medication-assisted treatment, the study revealed that people seeking to drink less or quit have clear treatment preferences and needs that are not fully met by traditional treatment options.

Nearly a third of Americans want to drink less or quit with twice as many respondents preferring moderation (19%) to abstinence (8%). Among those at severe or high risk for alcohol misuse, the preference for moderation is even stronger: 36% of this group reported wanting to drink less vs. 3% wanting to quit drinking entirely.

Although treatment providers have traditionally emphasized abstinence, clinical experts increasingly recognize that moderation is a legitimate goal for some patients. “Any reduction in drinking-related harm is healthy and important,” Lee said. “Substantially cutting down the amount that we drink can yield many benefits: improved sleep, weight loss, lower blood pressure, better sex, safer driving, improved mood, and more time and energy for the things that we want to do with our friends and family.”

Privacy and confidentiality was ranked most important in evaluating a treatment provider by people who want to drink less or quit, with 65% rating privacy and confidentiality as very important. Following privacy, 64% of people who want to drink less or quit indicated that affordability was very important in evaluating a treatment provider, followed by convenience.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, people who are struggling with alcohol misuse are not universally in denial about the need to change their relationship with alcohol,” said Jonathan Hunt-Glassman, Founder and CEO of Oar Health. “Rather, they are telling us what they need: private, affordable, accessible treatment options that support goals of moderation, not just abstinence. Our current treatment system for alcohol problems needs to evolve to reflect this reality.”

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted on February 20, 2022 among a national sample of 1,693 American adults ages 18 and older. Full survey results are available at https://www.oarhealth.com/news/americans-relationships-with-alcohol.

About Oar Health

Oar Health is an addiction recovery platform that makes science-backed, medication-assisted addiction treatment approachable and accessible for millions of consumers who feel excluded by the current treatment landscape and who may have a wide range of goals, from moderation to abstinence. Our mission is to give anyone struggling with addiction a place to start, using the power of telemedicine to make medication-assisted addiction treatment accessible to all. Oar Health is based in Brooklyn, NY and is a part of Newco, IAC’s incubation platform. Learn more at www.oarhealth.com.

About The Author

Oar is a telemedicine platform that makes science-backed, medication-assisted addiction treatment approachable and accessible for millions of consumers who feel excluded by the current treatment landscape and who may have a wide range of goals, from moderation to abstinence.

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