August 21, 2019
Vancouver, Canada — Heavy drinking is associated with the risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, including alcohol dependence, major noncommunicable diseases such as liver cirrhosis, some cancers and cardiovascular diseases. It is also associated with injuries resulting from violence and road collisions.
Many believe 12-step intervention programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous are the only way to overcome addiction. While this traditional treatment approach may be effective for some, it may not work for everyone. Decades of mounting scientific evidence show therapeutic and pharmaceutical interventions can be also effective.
To broaden support and accessibility for treating addictions, Genome BC has invested in BC based ALAViDA Health Ltd.— a Vancouver based digital health company that offers a new approach to treatment and an alternative to 12-step programs.
Focused on the treatment of heavy drinking, ALAViDA’s outpatient program allows people to privately regain control over alcohol use without leaving work or family, at a fraction of the cost of traditional treatment. By combining compassionate professional care, evidence-based methods and technology, clients are empowered to reach their goals. Their model offers anonymity and convenience, positioning ALAViDA as a treatment option for more people.
“Often there is so much stigma and barriers to finding treatment, that despite the consequences of their excessive alcohol use, most people struggling with heavy drinking choose not to engage in treatment of any kind. ALAViDA helps people achieve a healthier life that doesn’t have to come at large social and personal cost. We believe that people wanting to make positive change should be met with open arms and practical tools, not obstacles and conditions,” says co-founder and CEO, Elliot Stone. “Since starting in North America in 2016, we’ve had an 82% success rate in helping clients feel more in control of their drinking and stop drinking once they start.”
The ALAViDA programs combine pharmacotherapy – prescription of non-addictive medications such as naltrexone – to help reduce cravings for alcohol, with cognitive-behavioural therapy that helps clients learn safer drinking behaviours and healthier coping skills. The CORE program is tailored to each individual, and includes one year of access to the care team and mobile app. With the support of licensed physicians and therapists, clients typically regain control within six months. The mobile platform allows clients to track their drinking, triggers, and medication use right from their pocket, and privately share with their care team in real time.
“The combination of technology, pharmacotherapy and medical support provides a unique approach to treating Alcohol Use Disorder,” says Dr. Tony Brooks, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Entrepreneurship & Commercialization. “This addresses an important need, not only in North America, but around the world.”
The harmful use of alcohol causes 3 million deaths worldwide every year and represents 5.3 % of all deaths annually according to the World Health Organization. In Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) reports 10 Canadians die in hospital every day from harm caused by substance use, and 75% of those deaths are related to alcohol. The CIHI data also show alcohol contributes to more than half of all substance use hospitalizations, which are 13 times more common than for opioid overdoses.
Genome BC has invested in ALAViDA Health through its Industry Innovation (I²) program. The I² Fund provides commercialization support for companies developing innovative life science technologies that address biological challenges in key economic sectors in BC: Agriculture, Energy and Mining, Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, and Human Health. The I² Fund also supports digital health and other technologies that further move precision medicine into clinical practice. I² funding is repayable and is allocated to promising technologies (products, processes or services) at the early stages of commercial development. The Fund aims to provide risk capital that is concurrently matched by other public or private funding sources.
ALAViDA is the first digital therapeutics company treating heavy drinking with harm reduction. At ALAViDA, we combine medication and therapy with easy-to-use technology to tailor treatment and allow clients to privately access their care team from anywhere. Clients set their own goals and see life-changing results: over 87% reported feeling more in control of their drinking and over 82% significantly improved their ability to stop drinking once they start. We currently have offices in Canada and the USA. More information about ALAViDA and how treatment works can be found at alavida.co
About Genome British Columbia
Genome British Columbia leads genomics innovation on Canada’s West Coast and facilitates the integration of genomics into society. A recognized catalyst for government and industry, Genome BC invests in research, entrepreneurship and commercialization in life sciences to address challenges in key sectors such as health, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, agrifood, energy, mining and environment. Genome BC partners with many national and international public and private funding organizations to drive BC’s bioeconomy. genomebc.ca