Alcohol use is prevalent in our society, with 85.6 percent of people 18 and older reported having consumed alcohol at some point in their lives. While moderate consumption isn’t as harmful, nearly 15 million individuals have alcohol use disorder (AUD). This can severely impact one’s health, from an increased risk of neurological disorders, liver diseases, and various cancers, to a higher incidence of motor vehicle accidents and legal complications.
It certainly doesn’t help that alcohol is so readily available, especially for vulnerable individuals and teens. Luckily, if you believe that you’re struggling, there are options to address this with high-quality habit-breaking programs and treatments online, such as Sunnyside. It’s not a treatment for AUD. Instead, its focus lies with people who want to share and focus on their relationship with drinking, whether it’s to lose weight, save money, or just cut back on what they consume.
The key takeaway is that it’s legit, too, helping thousands discover mindful drinking and change their relationship with alcohol. They claimed to have helped members cut “more than two million drinks in 2021” (as Cutback Coach, pre-rebrand).
Our Sunnyside review will cover everything you need to know about its unique approach to mindful drinking. You’ll learn how it can help you get your drinking habit under control without having to give it up altogether. The information we’ll provide will help you decide if Sunnyside is effective and worth it for you or a loved one.
What is Sunnyside?
Sunnyside (formerly known as Cutback Coach) is an online program that uses psychology-based strategies for managing your habit. Instead of abstaining altogether, you rebuild your relationships with alcohol with mindful and intentional drinking. It is a subscription-based service founded by CEO Nick Allen and Ian Andersen. Allen draws on his experiences with his parents’ alcohol struggles during his childhood.
He recognized he needed a different approach to curb his overdrinking. Sunnyside uses a simple but effective method that focuses on commitment and accountability through emails and daily text messages for reporting your consumption the previous day. It is completely non-judgmental, focusing on positivity to keep you motivated and on track for reaching your goals.
Alcohol recovery without quitting: Is Sunnyside’s approach legit?
Sunnyside focuses on mindful drinking. That means being aware of how much you’re imbibing. Then, the program considers your goals, asking users how much they want to consume daily and the number of dry days they’ll aim for in their week. The program uses a science-based approach with what it calls ‘superpowers’:
- Power of pre-commitment
- Power of conscious interference
- Power of belief and positivity
This approach tackles a common misconception that exists about alcohol – a difference exists between alcoholism and heavy drinking. The former describes an inability to quit, despite wanting to make a change. These individuals prioritize alcohol over other aspects of their life, sometimes putting themselves in potentially harmful or even dangerous situations.
Then, there are heavy drinkers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines it in numbers. For men, it’s more than 14 drinks per week, and for women, seven. A physical drive isn’t present – instead, it’s more of a habit or pleasurable experience that perhaps has gotten out of control. That’s where Sunnyside steps up to the plate.
The company reports positive results based on the feedback of its members. Within 30 days, individuals reduced their drink consumption by 29% on average, saving an estimated 2,500 calories and at least $50. Allen’s honesty about his struggles lends credence to their legitimacy and his genuine desire to help people, and we liked the frequent reminders about not being judgmental.
What makes Sunnyside unique?
While there are many rehab programs and treatments to help you quit drinking altogether, Sunnyside is unique because that’s not their main goal – they are forthright that they don’t treat AUD. Alteratives often use other methods, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET). Sunnyside recognizes that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it harnesses the power and motivation to make a lifestyle change.
Sunnyside helps individuals realize what triggers their drinking and find ways to circumvent their behavior with healthier habits. The ultimate goal is to make positive changes that last, whether you’re embracing mindful drinking, wanting to lose weight or cut calories, hoping to save money, sleep better, being sober curious, or whatever your reasoning!
The research supporting the use of mindfulness is compelling. A study by the University of Utah found that using a mindfulness-based therapy reduced opioid use among users with a history of misuse and chronic pain. Research by Wolters Kluwer Health showed mindfulness could help lower blood pressure in individuals diagnosed with prehypertension.
Perhaps some of the most interesting data also come from the University of Utah. Researchers found that participants using mindfulness interventions experienced better control and stability over their emotions. They also recommended further investigation into its role in other aspects of self-regulation. These findings suggest that Sunnyside’s approach to managing one’s drinking has merit among the positive reviews and feedback that can be found.
How does Sunnyside diagnose alcoholism?
The purpose of Sunnyside is NOT a cure for alcohol dependency. The company’s website is clear that these situations require the help of a medical professional. However, if you want to quit drinking, it’s a reasonable place to start. The default experience will assist you with cutting back. It’s then up to you if you want to set a higher bar with more aggressive goals and increased dry days.
For resources related to AUD, including how to get support, please visit the NIH website. Sunnyside has also partnered with Moderation Management, a non-profit dedicated to reducing the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol.
How does Sunnyside work?
Getting started with Sunnyside involves a few easy steps, and they offer a 15-day free trial – more than 2 weeks to see if your drinking habits are positively affected. This also gives you plenty of opportunities to learn more about how it works before you commit.
- Take a short quiz. This 3-minute quiz will identify when and how much you drink, your current habits, past experiences, and more. Remember, there’s no judgment.
- Define your goals. This can include saving money, getting better sleep, or losing weight. Attaching your actions to this higher motivation can help you stick with the program.
- Receive a personalized plan. Based on your input, Sunnyside will offer a plan with the number of drinks and dry days for your first milestone. You can always change it if you feel that it’s too aggressive or not enough.
- The rest is up to you, but think of “lifestyle change,” not “fad diet.” Sunnyside will continue to work with you to develop new daily routines to be able to maintain your new habits for life.
You’ll receive a daily text reminding you to send in the number of drinks you had the day before (or, fun option: emojis to represent your drinks🍺🍸🥃). It may seem like a bit of a nag at first because it’s going to check in occasionally each day. But that’s a good thing if you need a nudge. However, we can see some thinking it’s a bit much. It all depends on what you need to stay motivated if you really want to take this step.
The program has four phases to reach long-term success. They include:
- Finding your motivation and introducing keystone habits
- Building and maintaining healthier drinking habits
- Solidifying your new drinking habits
- Bringing everything together to make it last
If you’ve followed any commercial diet or other alcohol treatment program, you’re probably well-acquainted with the concept of phases. Each one builds on the other to strengthen your motivation. After all, it takes a while to make new habits. The app keeps you on point if you want that assistance.
The best thing about it is that Sunnyside is so easy to use. It won’t make it difficult to follow the program. So, the results you get are dependent on your participation. All that being said, we can see this approach fitting for some people, but for others, maybe not so much.
How much does Sunnyside cost?
Sunnyside Mindful Drinking offers three pricing tiers. It also offers a generous 15-day free trial so that you can see if it’s right for you. The membership levels include:
$29 every three months
All plans have the same benefits, regardless of how often you want to use the service. You’ll get the program’s unique drink planning and tracking tools, which are the backbone of the program. You’ll have access to robust analytics and reporting to follow your progress.
While it uses automated tools, you can also get coaching from real people if you need extra support on your journey. This 1:1 coaching service is available via text message and can be a game-changer when you’re in need of support. Sunnyside is also launching a premium coaching feature that elevates this further – stay tuned for updates on this!
One thing to bear in mind is that you must provide a debit or credit card number, even if you only want to do the risk-free trial.
Sunnyside alternatives: How does it compare to other online alcohol rehab programs?
Other apps and programs exist that focus on alcohol use and mindfulness. Many focus on the more serious side of the issue instead of a change in habits. The essential thing to understand is that the support you need is available, with many companies incorporating a virtual experience into their approaches.
Best online alcohol rehab programs: Sunnyside vs Reframe vs Tempest vs Workit Health vs Monument
Depending on plan:
$8.25 to $12/month
Annually: $39.99-119.99/year ($3.33-9.99/month)
One-on-one coaching sessions: $299 for 4 sessions
|Costs not provided online||
Depending on plan:
$149 to $249/month
|Program Focus||Mindfulness||Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness||Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness||Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Therapy||Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Therapy|
|Free Trial||✅ (15 days)||✅ (7 days)||✅ (7 days)||❌||❌|
|Access to licensed doctors||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
(app store only)
For a more in-depth review of some of these alternative options, check out our other addiction treatment reviews, including reviews on Tempest, Workit Health, and Monument
Sunnyside reviews: What are customers saying on Reddit and beyond?
Based on reviews, Sunnyside is a real eye-opener for a lot of people. Many are surprised by how easy the transition to mindful drinking was. The outpouring of gratitude must make the company’s founders proud of what they’ve done and how many individuals they’ve helped in the short run. Here are a few of our favorites.
Source: Trust Pilot
Sunnyside reviews: What is the media saying?
The media was also positive about Sunnyside. Detailed reviews revealed pretty much our take on the program, too. It fulfills a need for the right person who would benefit from the daily reminders. For use, the lengthy trial period makes it a no-brainer. The mindfulness research is informative and a nudge in itself.
The Verdict: Can Sunnyside help you drink less?
Sunnyside has a lot to offer if you’re ready to take this journey and has proven success in helping people cut back on their alcohol intake. On average, Sunnyside members reduce their weekly alcohol consumption by 29% in 30 days and up to 40% in 60 days. This impacts other life qualities, with an average of 1,500 daily calories cut from their diet and over $50 saved each month. There are also many who benefit from sleep improvements, increased energy, reduced anxiety, and reduced hangovers.
So, whether your goal is to cut calories, save money, feel better, or just simply be more mindful of your alcohol intake, Sunnyside has the tools for you. Like almost any health program, your success does come down to you and your commitment to the process. It’ll provide the reminders, but it’s up to you to follow through with the action.
This program will work best for people who are used to and motivated by to-do lists and are comfortable using them. These users will likely appreciate the daily check-ins and added support they receive. However, it’s not for everyone. While the cost is reasonable, it’s a better option for someone who is committed to going into it and is ready to take the next step.
However, we liked the approach, particularly that it uses established methods to motivate and benefit people. We could definitely see it for other applications like weight loss or exercise. The 15-day risk-free trial is hard to pass up if you just want to test the waters and see if it works for you. If you’re wondering if Sunnyside is worth it, we say yes; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving it a try!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does Sunnyside's drinking app cost?
Despite some of the titles, the Sunnyside program actually relies on text messaging for its communication once you give your number (not an app). It also has a web interface and correspondence via email. The current membership options (after a 15-day free trial) are $99/year, $29/month (quarterly), or $12/month (monthly).
Does Sunnyside take insurance?
Sunnyside doesn’t provide any information about insurance or using an FSA account. We recommend that users contact their providers for further assistance.
Does Sunnyside accept credit cards?
Yes, Sunnyside will accept debit and credit cards for your plan feeds.
How do I cancel my Sunnyside subscription?
Cancellation is easy. Simply log into your account on the Sunnyside website and then “Manage Subscription” on your profile and select “cancel”.
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