Press Releases

Monday, January 24, 2022

Highmark expands services to help members with alcohol use disorder

PITTSBURGH PA (January 24, 2022) — As the first month of 2022 comes to a close, many people are wrapping up what is known as “Dry January,” a time designated to abstain from alcohol to begin the new year. While Dry January began in 2012 as a way to recover from the excesses of the holiday season, there may also be many health benefits to limiting or eliminating alcohol, such as weight loss, better sleep, better skin and an improved immune system.

The end of Dry January is also a good opportunity for people to assess their relationship with alcohol, and if they may be drinking too much or are dependent on alcohol, says Demetrios Marousis, director of Behavioral Health for Highmark Inc.

“Recent studies have shown that alcohol use increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people turned to drinking to cope with the anxiety, stress and loss,” said Marousis. “While some moderate alcohol consumption may help people manage stress, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to what’s known as alcohol use disorder.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.

The Centers for Disease Control also says that excessive alcohol use can lead to an increased risk of health or other serious problems such as injuries, violence, memory issues, heart disease, liver diseases, and cancer. 

While an estimated 15 million people in the U.S. have AUD, less than 10 percent get treatment, as reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

“Those numbers may seem discouraging, but the good news is that Highmark offers treatment options as part of our benefits to help members deal with and overcome addiction,” said Marousis.

Marousis said Highmark recently contracted with Tempest to offer its members a new alcohol

recovery platform which has been shown to reduce members' number of drinks consumed on a typical drinking day by 66 percent and reduce the severity of anxiety and depression symptoms by 25 percent.

Tempest offers intensive treatment that incorporates behavioral therapy, positive psychology, mindfulness and meditation, trauma-informed care, and an always-on community of professionals, including accountability coaches, subject matter experts, and clinical advisors, as well as peers for constant support.

“We are pleased to add Tempest as a provider to our behavioral health benefits,” Marousis said. “We have found that it is very important to offer our members online and virtual provider options when it comes to behavioral health because these options can help remove barriers to getting the right care, such as cost, travel and stigma.”  

Highmark members can learn more about available behavioral health benefit options by logging in to the member portal at member.highmark.com. 

About Highmark Inc.

One of America's leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. (the Health Plan) and its affiliated health plans (collectively, the Health Plans) work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. As the fourth-largest overall Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of more than 6 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

For more information, contact

Anthony Matrisciano
Highmark Health
570-200-6310
anthony.matrisciano@highmarkhealth.org