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Arguing the case for podcasts in the management of alcohol addiction

Illustration of microphone in bottle
Epen Gelald | Vecteezy

Opinion by Hari Govind

It's time to start taking podcasts seriously in helping people overcome their addiction demons.

Accepting addiction as a problem is the biggest challenge addicts face. Group therapy sessions, such as AA meetings, play a vital role in overcoming this issue. Gathering recovering addicts together to share their real-life insights, these meetings can guide other recovering addicts toward realising their addiction problems and provide hope that life can get better.

But group therapy isn’t for everyone. First and foremost, the fear of being exposed as an addict often impedes recovery. In the case of these meetings, individuals are baring their addiction in front of unknown people. After all, talking about personal problems – which can be very intimate – in front of a bunch of strangers is not an easy thing to do. Unsurprisingly, in most cases, people find their initial few meetings difficult.

Ultimately, the problem comes down to a fear judgement, which is the biggest enemy for healthcare professionals and successful therapeutic intervention. This fear often overrides the benefits of venting about issues and getting the necessary support for recovery.

Attending group meetings is another major issue, which can be affected by many different aspects:

  • Work – Modern-day working means that a work-life balance is a scarce thing to come across in many countries, including well-developed and sustainable economic states. Unfortunately, Work is one of the most critical factors leading to addictions as a stress reliever.

  • Family and friends – In the initial stages, it's tough to convince the patient to let family members know about their problems and the importance of their presence in the meetings for a better support system in the outside world. So, they fear being known as an addict among their family and friends when they come to see that they attend group support meetings.

  • Access – Simply put, group support meetings aren’t available everywhere and all the time. Insufficient funds and aid are crucial factors for reduced outreach of these meetings.

The lockdown effect

We know that the COVID pandemic has affected our daily life in various ways. One of the biggest was in our harnessing of technology to overcome the obstacles of restricted social movement. Such advances affected the very foundations of life and continue to, even after restrictions were lifted.

Group support meetings are a perfect example of this. Practical difficulties, including bans on public gatherings and complicated travel logistics, meant that online meetings became a go-to solution. But going online wasn’t as effective as it should have been.


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Going audible

Thankfully, there is an alternative that can at least partially replicate the benefits of group sessions: podcasts.

The popularity of podcasts, in general, has boomed since the pandemic and is projected to grow annually by a further 31% until 2028. Naturally, podcasts involving the sharing of real-life stories of addiction have grown enormously too.

Unlike face-to-face sessions, podcasts offer addicts the comfort of being able to listen to various life stories whilst remaining in their comfort zone without the fear of being judged or exposed. According to my own professional experience, addicts find that listening to human voices with intermittent breathing sounds, pauses, and verbal sounds in the background provides a very beneficial and immense impact on their understanding of the nature of their disease.

Podcasts also offer the opportunity to alter the audio’s language and speed according to the listener’s preferences, while accompanying chat rooms make it more convenient for listeners to share their life stories through the same platform.

Barriers related to accessibility and usability of podcasts do exist, and they lack the in-person social aspect and sense of personal touch of group therapy sessions – characteristics that podcasts simply cannot replace.

But the opportunities podcasts present are vast. They offer the chance to reach millions through the convenience of mobile phones, tablets and laptops, meaning people can listen to a podcast from anywhere in the world, in their own time and comfort zone. This means that addicts can progress toward recovery at their own pace, advancing to therapy when they are comfortable and accustomed. And of course, this is all while offering the most critical aspect to many addicts: privacy and security.

What podcasts can help with alcohol addiction?

There are numerous informative and supportive sobriety podcasts available for recovering addicts.

Many take the opportunity to share people’s journeys towards de-addiction, including their challenges and ways to overcome them, as well as to educate on facing an acute crisis and valuable long-term lifestyle modifications to overcome addiction once and for all.

Importantly, they also make addicts realise they are not alone in this battle. After all, there are a vast number of people in the community facing similar issues and struggling to cope with addiction.

Here are a few podcasts which I believe are very valuable:


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