College Students' Facebook Postings May Predict Problem Drinking

A new study published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine finds that college students who post Facebook photos of themselves in heavy drinking situations, or who make frequent references to drinking in their Facebook postings are more likely to have actual drinking problems. The study concludes that clinicians (and parents) can apply "problem drinking" criteria when looking at a young person's Facebook posts.

The students who were studied, whose average age was 18.8, scored 64 percent higher on the AUDIT scale, a clinical scale used to measure disordered alcohol use, if they displayed drinking photos or posts on Facebook. Those students were also more likely to have had an alcohol-related injury in the past year.

Researchers say that 1,700 alcohol-related deaths occur on college campuses each year. The study's authors urge colleges to screen for alcohol abuse students who reference drinking on Facebook, which may raise privacy concerns for many.

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