Quick Questions with the Woman Behind Annum
First things first: What is Annum, in ten words or less?
Dr. Lauren Wolfe (LW): We’re the modern alternative to traditional rehab for heavy drinking.
How does it work?
LW: Our providers deliver private, comprehensive care to individuals at home so that it doesn’t upend their lives. Each person has their own dedicated treatment team comprised of a doctor, a therapist and a coach. Together with the participant, they set a goal to either quit drinking or cut back on heavy drinking days. This team stays with the participant throughout the entire course of care, which can last up to a year – or one “annum”.
Who can sign up for Annum?
LW: Annum is offered through select employer health insurance plans, but you don’t need to raise your hand and tell your boss that you’re interested. We call you. Seriously – we call every employee at the companies we work with to see if they would like a consultation with one of our coaches, so no one is singled out.
If Annum is not currently offered at your company, you can contact your benefits administrator and suggest they add it. You can point to studies showing that heavy drinking costs employers billions of dollars in lost productivity as their incentive to add Annum to your plan.
Wait, if it’s offered to me through my job, will my boss find out?
LW: Annum protects your privacy just like your primary care provider does. Your family, your co-workers, and your friends will have no knowledge of your participation in the program, unless you choose to disclose it to them.
How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?
LW: Let me make one thing clear: At Annum, we don’t label anyone “an alcoholic.” We focus on helping you change behaviors that you want to change.
OK, but how do I know if my drinking could be a problem for me?
LW: It’s different for every person, but common medical convention is that someone having more than four or five drinks at a time four or more times a month could benefit from talking to their trusted health care provider about their drinking.
What’s the big deal about Annum? Why would someone try this instead of the usual rehab?
LW: We call Annum an alternative for a reason. We level the playing field a little by delivering the same high standard of care to everyone, everywhere, and eliminating the barrier of high cost altogether. If another program works for you, that’s great! But not everyone can take a month or more away from their lives and daily responsibilities for inpatient treatment and not everyone lives near a great outpatient facility.
Can you tell me a little more about the treatment team?
LW: One of the most exciting things about Annum, for me, is that it’s completely individualized to the participant. As I mentioned, each person has their own dedicated treatment team composed of a doctor, a therapist and a coach.
Your coach works with you for up to an entire year to celebrate milestones, big and small, and to offer encouragement. Your therapist connects with you over the phone to work through the thinking and behaviors that coincide with heavy drinking, and you’ll work together to change those behaviors over a two- to three- month period. Your physician connects with you by video to offer a medication evaluation and talk to you about options for medication, if that’s appropriate for you. And then there’s the moderated online support group that’s available to every participant, so you always have a community of people standing by who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Wow. That sounds amazing.
LW: Thank you! We’re really proud of what we’re doing. It is so rewarding to be able to help folks across the country.