Over the past 10 years, Social media has significantly influenced our daily lives. Facebook and Twitter have become commonplace for dating, connecting, and socializing. Most recently, studies have shown an increase in college aged drinking, especially among male students. Social media has profoundly changed how we communicate, and it is now helping behavioral researchers identify at-risk and maladaptive behaviors by monitoring post content.

A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggests that Facebook posts may send signals of at-risk intoxication and/or alcohol abuse. According to a TIME article, “The study focused on college students, nearly 1,700 of whom die each year as a result of alcohol-related overdoses, injuries or car accidents. Because college students don’t regularly go to the doctor, alcohol abuse isn’t often picked up through the health-care system. In the absence of clinical data, though, sites like Facebook might offer a clue about whether a person’s drinking is harmful.” The leadresearcher of the study, Megan Moreno says, “Social media gives us a new way to look at behaviors that are tough to identify on the surface.

Moreno looked 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 on Facebook; “alcohol displayers” were those who shared news or pictures about alcohol use; and those who posted about being seriously drunk were “intoxication or problem drinking displayers.” Read Entire Time Article

What is the difference between Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

What is alcohol abuse?

Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following circumstances in a twelve-month time frame:

  1. Drinking in situations that can result in physical injury such as operating machinery.
  2. Continued drinking in spite of ongoing relationship problems that are the result of drinking.
  3. Failure to attend to important responsibilities at home, work, or school.
  4. Experiencing recurring alcohol-related legal problems. Examples include getting arrested for damaging someone’s property, receiving a DUI, or for physically hurting someone while drunk.

What is Alcoholism?

 To understand the differences between alcohol abuse and alcoholism, we will provide a definition of alcoholism. According to alcoholism facts, alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence, is a form of drug addiction and is a disease that includes the following symptoms:

  1. Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking over time or on any given occasion.
  2. Craving: A strong and continuing compulsion or need to drink.
  3. Tolerance: The need to drink increasing amounts of alcohol in order to “feel the buzz” or to “get high.”
  4. Physical dependence: Alcohol withdrawal symptoms when a person stops drinking after a period of excessive drinking. Such symptoms include: “the shakes.” nausea, anxiety, and sweating.

Four warning signs of heavy drinking or drug use

Recovering Addict Hub Pages suggest the following warning signs to identify alcohol abuse in college students:

  1. You notice a dramatic change in your child’s behaviors. A dramatic shift in behaviors is a significant warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse, and if you notice that phone calls either stop or increase dramatically in frequency, this can be a sign of a teen in trouble.
  2. When you go to visit, if you notice that your previously neat teen lives in a slovenly room, no longer cares about their appearance or hygiene, or seems to be associating with unusual friends, these may all also indicate a problem with substance abuse.
  3. Your previously good student all of a sudden starts performing poorly at school. Of course academic failures are not necessarily linked to substance abuse, but substance abuse is rarely correlated with academic success. If your teen is not able to perform at the same level as they used to, it may be because they are less focused on school, and more focused on drugs or alcohol…or out partying too late into the night, and too hangover to get to class.  He or she is always broke. A bit of monetary fluctuation is probably normal, especially for people not used to handling all of their own expenses and budgeting; but drugs and alcohol are expensive, and if they are constantly in need of more money, you may want to be concerned that this money is needed to fund a growing problem with drugs or alcohol.
  4. You can never get them on the phone. A normal college student will spend most nights at home, will normally be in the room and available in the early mornings, and probably home in the late evenings most nights. If you can never reach your teen, this may be a warning sign. If you call at noon and constantly seem to be waking a hung-over sounding student, this may also be cause for alarm.

Alcohol Abuse Statistics: Concerning alcohol abuse statistics and basic alcohol facts and info about alcohol abuse, according to a study undertaken by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in 2005, the following alcohol abuse statistics and alcoholism statistics were discovered:

  1. According to alcohol abuse and alcoholism facts uncovered by alcohol research, American youth who drinking before the of age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than young people who do not drink before the age of 21. This statistic focuses on the importance of drinking at a later rather than at an earlier age. This statistics also points out very clearly how abuse and alcohol go together, even for teenagers.
  2. The 25.9% of underage drinkers who are alcohol abusers and alcohol dependent drink 47.3% of the alcohol that is consumed by all underage drinkers.
  3. Every day in the U.S. more than 13,000 children and teens take their first drink. Among other things, this means that many of these teens will understand first hand the relationship between abuse and alcohol.
  4. Every year, 1,400 American college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related accidents and injuries, including motor vehicle accidents. Traffic fatalities, perhaps more than any other statistics, point out the devastating realities that often result from alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
  5. In the United States during 2004, 16,694 deaths occurred as a result of alcohol-related motor-vehicle crashes. This amount was approximately 39% of all traffic fatalities. This amounts to one alcohol-related death every 31 minutes. This statistic, quite honestly, is overwhelming. Talk about abuse and alcohol—one alcohol related traffic fatality every 31 minutes and the grief and devastation suffered from these deaths is beyond comprehension.
  6. Here’s one of the alcohol abuse and alcoholism facts and an alcohol statistic that though logical, is something that most drinkers and non-drinkers probably do not know: The 9.6% of adult alcoholics drink 25% of the alcohol that is consumed by all adult drinkers.
  7. Every year in the U.S. more than 150,000 college students develop health problems that are alcohol-related. This is additional evidence that alcohol abuse and alcoholism, unfortunately, are intimately interrelated to one another.
  8. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cost the United States an estimated $220 billion in 2005. This dollar amount was more than the cost associated with cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion). Though dollar amounts like this are hard to comprehend, at least they make an attempt at placing a dollar value on the relationship of abuse and alcohol.

What can parents do?

  1. Do not assume your college aged child is just “having fun.”
  2. Understand that many substance and alcohol addictions are cultivated during the college years.
  3. Seek counseling or professional help immediately if you suspect your child is drinking too much.
  4. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance or alcohol addiction, please contact a counselor to assist you in such challenges.

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