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Grantees will probe social media's influence on substance use patterns

October 21, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards to 11 grantees will examine the influence of social media on attitudes about substance use, as well as on prevention and treatment of addiction. Some of the topics to be studied under a funding initiative totaling more than $11 million include predicting treatment completion and relapse from social media use; the use of Facebook to recruit parents for a teen drug use prevention program; and the use of social media data for e-cigarette surveillance.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and National Cancer Institute are funding the initiative through the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN) consortium. “We hope to learn more about how changing technologies affect interpersonal communications and factual knowledge about tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, including the nonmedical use of prescription drugs,” NIDA director Nora D. Volkow, MD, said in an Oct. 16 news release.

Besides social media's potential to enhance the effectiveness of substance use treatment and prevention efforts, an examination of social media interactions is seen as potentially uncovering important information about substance use patterns and the factors that influence them.