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Friday, February 3, 2017

Can Texting Deter Alcohol Abuse?

According to a first-of-its-kind study published in PLOS ONE, text messaging may very well be an effective alcohol-abuse deterrent. Researchers found that "adaptive-tailored texts” were similar to“in-person moderation treatments" when it came to helping problem drinkers.

The text messages, which were tested on 152 participants interesting in curtailing their alcohol use, factored in age, gender, and specific drinking patterns. There were four types of messages sent daily, according to researchers:
  • Loss framed: “Think of all you have lost as a result of drinking too much. Make today a day that sets the stage for change.”
  • Gain-framed: “Think of all you can achieve if you can control your drinking. Make today a day that sets the stage for change.”
  • Static-tailored: “It’s been three weeks since you signed up.”
  • Adaptive-tailored: These incorporated various individual factors, such as participant’s heaviest drinking times.
After three months, participants saw big results: Those who received adaptive-tailored texts reduced their weekly alcohol consumption by 9.64 drinks. In addition, 80 percent of all participants responded “yes,” when asked if they’d like to continue receiving the text messages for an additional 12 weeks.

“Today, text messaging is part of our daily routine,” Frederick Muench, director of Northwell Health’s Digital Health Interventions in Psychiatry unit,” said in press release. “If we could find a way to make this subtle but effective communication help those who are trying to drink less succeed when they need encouragement most, we have created something that can positively impact the 15 million American adults living with an alcohol-use disorder.”

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