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Social media can help track alcohol problem in students: Study

Social media can help track alcohol problem in students: Study

Social media can help track alcohol problem in students: Study

June 10th, 2016 | ASAH Team

Alcoholism among college students in the United States is a matter of grave concern. But drinking during college days needs to be reined in due to negative consequences associated with excessive drinking during early years.

As per a December 2015 report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly 599,000 students face unintentional injuries under the sedative effects of alcohol, while 1,825 college students succumb every year to alcohol addiction.

Recognizing alcohol problems in college students can be difficult, but a new study, titled “College Students’ Drinking and Posting About Alcohol: Forwarding a Model of Motivations, Behaviors, and Consequences,” published in the Journal Of Health Communication: International Perspectives in May 2016, suggested that sharing alcohol-related posts on social media platforms indicated alcohol problems as compared to actually having a drink.

Students at risk of having drinking problems can be identified

Today, social networking sites (SNS) have become an integral part of students’ lives. These act as a perfect platform for college students to coordinate and advertise their drinking behavior among friends and peers. The study also focused on the role of SNS in identifying drinking problems among teens.

As part of the study, the scientists from the North Carolina State University and Ohio University conducted an online survey on 364 undergraduate students above 18 years of age at the Midwestern University. All the participants were reported to have at least one alcoholic beverage in a month prior to the survey, and also had an active Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account.

The researchers then asked the students about their SNS use, alcohol issues, alcohol consumption and alcohol-related use of social media platform, along with a series of questions regarding the things that drive them to drink.

“The strongest predictor of both drinking alcohol and posting about it on SNSs was espousing an alcohol identity – meaning that the individuals considered drinking a part of who they are,” said Charee Thompson, an assistant professor of communication studies at Ohio University and co-lead author of the study. The students with the so-called social identity were likely to suffer from alcohol problems such as missing school or work or getting into frequent brawls with others.

It was observed that posting about alcohol use on the social media can strongly indicate alcohol problem among college students, as compared to their actual involvement in the drinking habit. Such postings can influence students to become a part of the “drinking culture” and be more drawn towards alcohol. Thus, such sites can be an effective tool to determine alcohol-related problems in them.

The study can go a long way in helping scientists to develop adequate treatment options for those who are at the risk of developing alcohol problems. “We’re hopeful that these findings can aid policymakers in developing interventions to target the most at-risk populations – particularly students with strong alcohol identities,” said Lynsey Romo, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and co-lead author of the study. Colleges can come forward to train student leaders and others to probe into various social media sites for texts and photos depicting alcohol issues.

Path to recovery

Alcoholism treatment needs a continued care, especially in teens, which can help prevent relapses and also ensure that sobriety is a long-term process. Support from family, friends and support groups can go a long way in helping an individual completely recover from alcoholism. The aftercare programs are also equally important as they can thwart any cravings and temptations to drink again.

If you or your loved one is battling alcohol addiction, contact the Arizona Substance Abuse Helpline to know about various substance abuse treatment centers in Arizona. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-857-5777 or chat online to get information about the best substance abuse rehab clinic in Arizona that works relentlessly toward helping addicts in their recovery.

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