Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Want to See Your Face as an Alcoholic? There's an App For That.

An iOS application created in Cheltenham, Scotland has impacted the way people rationalize drinking – using vanity as the main motivator for people to curb alcohol consumption.

Auriole Prince, who runs Change My Face, created the Drinking Time Machine app that depicts what your face will likely look like after 10 years of drinking. After uploading a photo of yourself or loved one, the app will show you your appearance according to consumption rates – 2-3 glasses of wine a day, “not quite a bottle” a day, and “a bottle or more” a day. The results are impacting, especially for those who value their youthful appearance. The picture above shows the outcome of drinking a bottle or more per day for 10 years, resulting in deepened wrinkles, bloodshot eyes and bloated and flushed cheeks.

Prince developed the application for the Scottish Government for a campaign that began in February to lower drinking rates across the country and is 
aimed at women between 30 and 50 years old. Other agencies using the software include Staffordshire police and the National Health System in Birmingham. Prince explains, "This is a new angle. You can tell people about liver disease until you are blue in the face, but it’s not going to change attitudes…This is such a great way of making people realize they are going to affect their looks as well."

To date, there have been few, if any, studies that indicate if appealing to one’s vanity can prevent them from crossing the line into addiction or prompt them to seek addiction treatment. The latter is more likely for the age group the application targets because a bottle a day habit by the age of 30 is likely an addiction. There are many reasons people are motivated to quit drinking, there is often an alcoholic “bottom” where one sees that their lives have been severely impacted with devastation from drinking.

Vanity may play a role in a person reaching their alcoholic bottom – but it is more likely to be in tandem with other ill effects of drinking such as divorce, loss of custody over children, unemployment and emotional isolation. The application may be better suited as a preventative measure for those who are currently problem drinkers in their late teens and early 20s who have not yet crossed the line into full blown addiction. Parents may be able to use this tool with others to educate their loved ones on the health and physical effects of drinking - making the Drinking Time Machine a useful tool, among many others, that can help reduce alcohol consumption and addiction rates.

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