Saturday, December 17, 2011

Texting Reduces Drinking Amongst Young Adults


It is fair to say that almost everyone over the age of thirteen has a cell phone, but, it seems like less people are talking on their cell phones these days as more people are using text messaging to communicate. One might find it hard to believe, but, text messaging may actually reduce one’s consumption of alcohol according to a new study. Young adults who sent and received weekly text messages that tracked their alcohol consumption drank less after 12 weeks.

The study included 45 heavy drinkers, ages 18 to 24, who were identified as hazardous drinkers after they ended up in the emergency room. They were divided into three groups.
  • One group sent and received weekly text messages about their drinking
  • A second group sent but didn’t receive texts
  • A third group sent no alcohol-related texts

The young adults in the second and third group did not decrease their drinking as much as the first group, the researchers found. The researchers claim that although the study is small, it points to a promising strategy for reducing problem drinking, CNN reports. Health officials are always on the lookout for effective strategies for reducing problem drinking amongst young adults.

“Given that mobile phones are essentially ubiquitous among young adults, and texting in particular is a heavily used communication tool, we sought to build and test an automated TM [text messaging] system that could conduct a health dialogue with young adults after discharge,” lead researcher Brian Suffoletto, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, said in a news release. “We believe that our study is the first to test a TM-based behavioral intervention to reduce alcohol consumption.”

The results are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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