The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published research from Boston Children’s Hospital that proves the importance of accessing people’s alcohol-related tweets and online searches to track alcohol use and trends. Collecting data on public health is an expensive and slow process when utilizing large survey-based studies.

Alcohol use is particularly challenging to precisely track at the local level, which presents a problem in that drinking patterns vary depending upon differences in local cultures, available resources, and access to education.  New research shows that employing strategies to extract information from people’s Twitter and Google accounts create quicker and more specific information.

This opportunity in research provides public health professionals an avenue to look for emerging trends and measure the effects of treatment programs. 


Survey Results Compared With Social Media Data

User data generated online fluctuates quickly and has the potential to be a rich resource for information. By examining this information, researchers monitor activities such as drinking and drug use and use their findings to change public policies.

The researchers used Google data to search for seven alcohol-related keywords: alcohol, alcoholism, alcoholic, beer, liquor, wine, and drinking. They also used Twitter posts related to personal alcohol use by classifying tweets in alcohol and non-alcohol contexts to estimate the proportions of tweets related to alcohol use.

Then, they compared survey responses from the National Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) with Google and Twitter information and found obvious associations. The associations occurred between certain survey takers reported use of alcohol and the volume of their alcohol-related Google searches and tweets.


The Findings Show How Someone’s “Alcohol Environment” Influences Them

Since the internet influences people’s behaviors and people influence the content that is on the internet, it is a precise mirror of reality. The findings of the study showed that states with harsh alcohol policies, such as limiting or eliminating happy hours, regulating alcohol consumption in public, and increasing the price of alcohol reduced the likelihood of people engaging in drinking behaviors.

This relationship is even true in places with high amounts of alcohol-related Google searches and tweets. Therefore, the study proves that alcohol-related policies work.


Need Help Navigating Through Your “Alcohol Environment”?

Substance use disorder (SUD), whether it be related to alcohol or drugs, is a public health concern, and using the public to help gather information is a way to help battle these tragic trends. Utilizing Google search data and social media information is an essential step in detecting and responding to emerging trends in alcohol-related behaviors. Measuring health behaviors from the public leads to enacting policies that impact the public as well.


At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  

We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.