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Dublin Students Launch Website for Teens Suffering From Alcohol Abuse

Dublin Students Launch Website for Teens Suffering From Alcohol Abuse
Two Dublin High juniors launched My Alcohol Story, a website and app that allows teenagers to share their stories anonymously.

By Michael Wittner, Patch Staff
January 26, 2023

DUBLIN, CA — Alcoholics Anonymous might have “anonymous” in its name, but for some teenagers struggling with alcoholism, it may not be anonymous enough.

“It’s really hard for teenagers to go into those organizations and share their stories,” said Anit Annadi, a Dublin High School junior who co-founded a social media platform where teens can share their journeys under an alias. “Even though it’s anonymous, it’s very confrontational. You have to go to a meeting, you have to sometimes show your face, and you have to talk and speak to other people. We wanted to make a safe space that’s accessible for this younger generation to share their story.”

Annadi and his DHS peer Cyril Joby this month created My Alcohol Story, a website and mobile app serving just that purpose. The students consulted with a number of mental health and substance abuse organizations, and then used their coding skills to create online forums where young people can find a community of people with similar experiences. Users join under an alias, and then post and comment on stories.

“We’re really trying to create a community where people can connect with others who struggle with alcohol, and aid one another, because that’s what community is for,” Annadi said. “You can see that you’re not alone in this fight.”

Annadi said that he feels underage drinking is a big problem in Dublin, and across the United States. In 2019, about 24.6 percent of youth ages 14-15 reported having at least one drink in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Health’s Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The NIH study also found that 4.2 million youth reported binge drinking at least once in the past month in 2019, and 7 million youth aged 12-20 reported drinking alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.

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Annadi said that he chose to focus on alcohol abuse because it is often the gateway to more serious drug abuse. While the site is mostly a forum for stories of alcohol abuse, users are also welcome to share drug abuse stories.

After just a week of launching, the site already had about 20 posts. Annadi and Joby are currently working on adding a private chat feature, which will be added soon. They are also taking on the formidable challenge of moderating the content that people post.

“We monitor the database where all the stories are kept, and if something inappropriate is posted, we delete that straight away, and we terminate the user,” Annadi said, noting that he and Joby monitor the app six to seven times a day. When the private chat feature is launched, a list of trigger words will be red-flagged, and moderators will read the post to make sure nothing untoward is going on. Trigger words include arranging to meet in-person, or any talk of self-harm. Anyone who mentions self-harm will be directed to suicide prevention or addiction resources.

Users will also soon be asked to share their birth date, and will only be able to connect with people in a certain age range.

Moderation may grow more challenging if usership expands the way that Annadi and Joby hope. They are reaching out to a number of substance abuse and mental health organizations and asking them to spread the word about their app. Their current goal is to expand usership throughout California, particularly via schools and school wellness centers.

Despite the moderation challenges high usership may present, the pair is excited about the potential of the website. “Everyone we’ve contacted said that there’s a real need for this,” Annadi said. “We wanted to make sure people can go to this website and talk about this stuff when they need to and find people who are willing to help them when they need it.”

For more information, visit myalcoholstory.com.