Georgia Tech grads launch app to help people quit drinking while social distancing

As telemedicine continues to take root, even quitting alcohol has become pocket size.

Reframe combines education, exercises, and progress tracking in an app for a few dollars a month.

"It’s not just about cutting back or quitting, it’s about building a life where alcohol doesn’t play a pivotal part," said Vedant Pradeep, co-founder of the app.

It’s based on recent Georgia Tech graduates Pradeep and Ziyi Gao’s conversations with roughly 700 people, ranging from psychiatrists and top researchers to people dealing with substance use issues.

Their methodology, in part, was inspired by Pradeep’s own bouts of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"As we talked to people in AA and other places, we realized it was the same thing with cravings, a 20-30 minute window, you just need to distract yourself," Pradeep explained.

So, the pair built in distractions to avert cravings: Games, meditation guides, opportunities to connect with a private community.

Since launching last summer, the app has garnered 3,000 subscribers, according to Pradeep.

Research shows a surge in heavy drinking in 2020, citing stress brought on by the pandemic. Alcohol sales spiked in the early days of lockdown.

"When quarantine went into effect and everyone was stocking up on toilet paper, I was stocking up on beer," said Amber Warren, an app subscriber.

Warren signed on to Reframe shortly after its launch, drawn to the daily research articles provided.

Now, she’s nine months sober.

"I felt really alone in the process," Warren described. "I didn't really know anyone else who was going through the same thing as me… so when I stumbled across this app, it opened this whole new world for me, and it made me feel like I had a support system to turn to."

Testimony like that keeps the gritty pair plugging through their 80 to 100-hour workweeks.

Their passion project has earned the attention of investors.

"There’s been a small army of people that’s essentially been helping us," Pradeep said, laughing.

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First their supportive parents, then Georgia Tech’s CREATE-X program, and most recently, $1.36 million from Atlanta Ventures.

Jacey Lucus, who is on the marketing team for Atlanta Ventures, said they focus on "however we can help them get traction, if it’s a new offering or product release, that’s what we’ll do."

The app continues to evolve with research. They’re going to be adding a new function this week that connects subscribers with personal coaches.

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