Facebook Can Now Identify Alcoholics

Jessica Hoppe

We all remember that feeling of finally being on “your own” yet totally subsidized by your family or school loans—it’s called college. And for many it is the foray into what, we in the biz call “party time.”

When I was in college I worried about drunkentexting– now one must be aware of drunk Facebookingaccording to a study published Monday in theArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine which examineddrunken posts as a means of identifying signs of alcoholism.

TimeHealthland explains thestudy focused on college students, nearly 1,700 of who die each year as a result of alcohol-related overdoses, injuries or car accidents.Megan Moreno, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madisonlooked at 307 public profiles of underage college students at two public universities, then developed a coding system to categorize students: “non-displayers” were college students who didn’t mention alcohol use onFacebook; “alcoholdisplayers” were those who shared news or pictures about alcohol use; and those who posted about being seriously drunk were “intoxication or problem drinkingdisplayers.”

In all, 224 students agreed to fill out a standard survey that would potentially display “at-risk behavior”—patterns ofdrinking and potential for harm. Ascore of eight or higher indicated you could be a problem drinker. Overall, 35 percent of students scored high enough to be placed in the at-risk category.

Finally the data collected by the survey was cross-referenced with the student’sFacebook page to identify acorrelationthat could lead to specific indicators of alcoholism.Of course, the data showed a greater percentage of students with sloppy profiles also displayed signs of ‘at risk’ behavior—anything from a fist fight to a car accident.

Some status updatesthat willget you flagged?

The “alcoholdisplayers” group: “I had a couple of beers…”

The “at-risk behavior” group: “I’ve been hung over all weekend!”

We already know kids in college are engaging in underage drinking and many for the first time in an open environment—does this necessarily canote an issue? The truth is64 percent of students had no references to alcohol use in theirFacebookprofiles and 23 percent of these “non-displayer” students scored high enough to be considered at risk for problem drinking.What the conclusion did concretely show was that students who shared stories or photographic evidence of drunkenness were 1.5 times more likely to score high on the problem-drinking survey.

So if you don’t want a call from home or a stern chat with your R.A. don’t post photographic evidence of your debauchery on the worldwide web! I know it’s difficult to realize while intoxicated but people will read what you post — lock it up!