Text Messaging Featured Article

Text Messaging Proves an Effective Tool to Reduce Alcoholism in Youth

January 05, 2012

Text messaging has become the most common way of communication among teens and many young adults. At the same time, more than 50,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 24 see the inside of a hospital for alcohol abuse or dependency.  So passing information about drinking to at-risk youths via text messaging may be a revolutionary idea.

According to a recent study
reported in this TSGGlobal report, using text messaging to reduce heavy drinking among young adults has many promising indicators. The results, which are available now online, will be released in a March 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The Lead study author, Dr. Brian Suffoletto, noted that using text messaging to collect the drinking information, feedback and support between clinicians, emergency room personnel and teens, resulted in teens drinking less. By addressing the issue of binge drinking or other alcohol-related hazardous behavior, teens lowered their risks of injury or even death.

For the study, researchers placed 45 adults in that same age category that were being discharged from various emergency rooms during the 12-week trial. Nearly half of those participants showed signs of risky drinking behavior. During that three month period, the participants were assigned to intervention and assessment groups to display their daily drinking levels. The results showed the average of 1.6 days per week with a maximum of 3.8 drinks. Everyone involved in the two groups would receive automated text messaging alerts to inquire about their drinking.

Both men and women who were put into a more at-risk pool, and agreed to set a goal to lessen their drinking, received more automated text messaging alerts to offer support. If any participant refused to set a goal to lower the amount of drinks per day, they still received text messaging alerts to motivate them to reconsider their decision.

 In both situations, the results were seen as positive. Many of the participants who received the text messaging intervention alerts showed signs of less drinking. Those who received the messages had 3.4 fewer binge drinking days.

However, the assessment group results were contrary to previous studies. Those participants actually increased their consumption of alcohol during the study. Researchers are still pondering the potential in this communication method, but wonder whether the text messaging alerts raised some sort of awareness among participants regarding their personal alcohol use to change their responses.

This use of text messaging is opening up further opportunities for exploration that could lead to additional positive results. If so, text messaging will take on a whole new meaning in substance abuse prevention.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca
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