Social media helps predicting risk of alcohol problems among students

College drinking is a major public health issue in the United States. Students consider drinking as a trend and thus, go on posting drinking-related updates, pictures and videos on social networking sites (SNSs).

Prior researches have indicated possible influence of such posts on drinking habits and related adverse consequences, however, none of the researches has provided sufficient explanations on the link between alcohol consumption and social media posts.

Alcohol identity on SNSs effects drinking habits

A team of researchers from the North Carolina State University and the Ohio University aimed to study factors prompting students with alcohol identity to drink and share updates on SNSs. The study titled “College Students’ Drinking and Posting About Alcohol: Forwarding a Model of Motivations, Behaviors, and Consequences” highlighted the definite role of SNSs in assisting students to correlate, publicize and share their drinking experiences.

The researchers found that having an alcohol identity on various SNSs increased the risks of drinking-related problems in college students. They also gained an understanding on how informing about alcohol use on SNSs strongly predicted future drinking problems.

For the study published online in the Journal of Health Communication in May 2016, the scientists carried out an online survey of 364 undergraduates at a Midwestern university. The respondents of the study, aged above 18, accepted having a minimum of one alcoholic drink during the previous month and had been active on SNSs like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The respondents were enquired about their use of networking platform, level of alcohol consumption and their use of SNSs to share their drinking. They were also asked about their motivations for drinking.

Commenting on the findings of the study, one of the co-authors Charee Thompson, assistant professor of communication studies at the Ohio University, said, “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. And those two behaviors were associated with alcohol problems, such as missing school or work or getting into fights because of drinking.”

Social media helps predict drinking problems

The observations made during the study indicated a strong correlation between drinking problems and the various posts showcasing alcohol use on social media platforms. The scientists were surprised to find that having a drink had considerably less influence on drinking-related problems when compared with incidents of students informing about their alcohol use on social media. They believed that posting about alcohol use promoted drinking culture among students, thus stimulating them to drink more, leading to aggravation of related problems.

Stressing on the implications of the observations made, co-author Lynsey Romo, assistant professor of communication at the North Carolina State University said, “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. And social media may help identify those students.”

Apart from the fact that drinking-related problems give rise to associated problems and disorders and is sometimes a gateway for substance use disorders makes it imperative for policy makers to implement guidelines regulating the nature of promotions on social media websites.

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The pervasiveness of drinking culture has affected almost everyone in the U.S. Despite the rising number of alcohol-related problems coming to the fore and experiences of alcohol use disorder on the rise, the government has failed to take any drastic measure to prevent drinking.

It takes a lot of time to gain complete sobriety after one gets hooked on alcohol. Nevertheless, if you or someone you know is grappling with alcohol addiction, you may get in touch with the Alcohol Addiction Get Help Helpline. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-281-3014 or chat online to get help regarding alcohol addiction treatment centers in USA.