Alcohol can be an addictive and harmful drug, and as a pharmacist, I believe alcoholic drinks should be more stringently labelled with dosage instructions, based on a consumer’s weight and gender, just as most pharmaceutical drugs are. In relation to alcoholic drinks, the only effort that has been made thus far to regulate the recommended dosage of alcohol, has been the “standard drinks” model recommended by WHO. Surprisingly, the standard drinks model has only been adopted by 11 countries, and even these don’t agree on one single definition. A drinks calculator App may provide an answer to this issue.
A standard drink in Australia is any drink containing 10 grams of pure alcohol.
A standard drink in the USA, is any drink containing 14 grams of pure alcohol.
A standard drink in the UK, is any drink containing 8 grams of pure alcohol.
Keeping track of the amount of alcohol you have consumed can be difficult. The most common way to achieve this is to express the amount of pure alcohol in a drinks as “units of alcohol” or “standard drinks,” depending on where you live.
The recommended number of standard drinks consumption per day and per week differs for men and women according to the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health (2014).
Our innovative Recoverthol App has been designed to address these issues. The features of this app include: time to sober, a standard drinks calculator and tracker based on where you live; interactive messaging system; and a dosage reminder for our product which promotes safe drinking. The most advanced function of the App is an “if you do, if you don’t” feature, that allows the user see what may happen before they choose to have another drink. By knowing this information in advance, the consumer may wait a while, or choose a lighter drink option.
A breathalyser can not give the user information in advance about how much alcohol is in different drinks or how long it will it take to be cleared based on weight and gender. Breathalysers are used after drinking. The Recoverthol App can be used before having a drink. The aim is to inform the user about what their level of drinking is before they decide to take their next drink, and to discourage consumers from drinking too much if they have already had too much. The Recoverthol App does not provide an accurate measure of your blood alcohol level. Your need a breathalyser to measure your BAC after drinking. You can, however, predict or estimate BAC by using by using a pharmacokinetic equation (i.e. Widmark equation).
In a recent scientific study, it was revealed that 89% of BAC apps evaluated, over-estimated the BAC level when compared to calibrated Breathalyser data (Weaver et al., 2013). In addition, BAC apps that collected a greater amount of data (e.g., gender, weight, number of drinks and hours of drinking) showed greater accuracy. Given the absence of such an app on the current market that can provide the user with information before drinking, Recoverthol App was designed using the Widmark equation to compare the effect of different drinks (not to measure BAC).
Despite their evident weaknesses, incorporating this type of pharmacokinetic equation within the app will provide users with estimates of blood alcohol levels associated with different types of drinks, and an estimate of how long it will take for that amount of alcohol to be metabolised to 0, based on gender and weight differences. These values can be obtained by users prior to deciding what drink they will have and when, and on the basis of this knowledge, choose not to drink a beverage with higher alcohol content, or to allow longer time between drinks in order to allow their BAC to decrease. As mentioned above, BAC apps using equations tend to over estimate the BAC levels when compared to calibrated Breathalyser data (Weaver et al., 2013), so we are safeguarded against under rating BAC levels to some extent.
We believe the Recoverthol App will fill a market niche for applications that provide longer-term benefits to users before and whilst drinking, that no other App on the market currently provides. These benefits have been highlighted as areas of interest in focus groups studies identifying a need for Apps that promote self-care whilst drinking. For example, providing notifications to keep drinking water, stop drinking over the recommended standard unit of alcohol consumption per day, or to eat something to avoid a hangover the next day (Weaver et al, 2013).
Recent use of this App amongst our testing group had shown that immediately following the use of this App, users became more cautious of their drinking habits and on many occasions have said that they would drink less (“wow, it takes 6 hours to process 2 glasses of wine”).
We have intentionally incorporated an interactive messaging system into our App that lets the user know if they are drinking too fast, or exceeding the recommended daily intake of alcohol based on WHO reports. The intended use of this app was not to provide a means of measuring BAC, but to provide a means of tracking alcohol consumption based on the types of drinks consumed over time, and the amount of time it would take for those drinks to be fully metabolised by the body. This information can provide consumers with valuable information about when to stop drinking in order to be sober for work the next morning. This feature was exclusively requested by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA).
I believe that this App will actually encourage people to reduce the amount of alcohol they are drinking. Without some form of estimate, based on weight and gender, consumers are flying blind when drinking alcohol.
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