Social Media and Alcohol Use Disorder
How many times have you clicked through your various social media accounts and seen friends and family sharing pictures of themselves socially drinking or talking about using alcohol to relax at the end of the day? At the same time, how many advertisements for alcohol have you noticed lurking between the unsponsored posts? Especially if you or a loved one struggles with a drinking problem, you might start to wonder if social media and alcohol use disorder go hand in hand.
The Relationship Between Social Media and Alcohol Use Disorder
Indeed, research seems to indicate that they are.
Young adults, in particular, even those below the legal drinking age, appear to be heavily influenced by depictions of alcohol use online.  This is concerning because the vast majority of social media posts referencing alcohol show drinking positively and emphasize the fun aspects of social drinking. 
In fact, a 2018 analysis of this topic reported that 97% of all young adult social media posts pertaining to alcohol were positive, and 67.2% display people having fun while holding alcoholic drinks. 
There is also a bonding aspect among people who drink to cope with stress or as a means of relaxation and then share their social media experiences. Jokes about “mom wine,” also referred to as “mommy juice,” for example, normalize alcohol use during the day to deal with a hectic household and wind down at the end of a long day. 
Peer influence isn’t the only aspect pushing social media users to increase their drinking habits. In fact, it’s only half of the picture. To understand the full impact that an online social network can have on its users, you must look at the prevalence of alcohol advertisements.
Advertisements for Alcohol on Social Media
Alcohol advertisements inundate social media users’ pages and prompt casual scrollers to put down the fun and go out for a night of drinking and social interaction.
According to recent research, the combination of advertisements with the positive influence reflected by peers posting their fun nights out with alcohol has a clear effect on real-life behavior. Disturbingly, children are also getting sucked into the alcohol culture online. Forbes reports that “increased use of social media by just one hour a day resulted in a 0.45 unit upsurge in the frequency of alcohol consumption among teenage students in the 7th to 11th grades.” 
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Is There a Silver Lining?
There may be a reason to keep a close eye on your children’s social media accounts or other loved ones. Because people so frequently post about their activities, you may be able to recognize a growing dependence on alcohol based on the frequency and content of their posts.
For example, if you see a loved one frequently posting about any of the following, you might consider it a red flag that they could be in trouble:
- Binge drinking
- Getting drunk frequently
- Blacking out
- Having more than a few drinks even when socially drinking
- Drinking alone, especially if you suspect depression is an issue
- Underage drinking
- Using alcohol as a way to self-medicate or cope with problems
- Needing alcohol to relax or fall asleep
- Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Driving while under the influence
Interestingly, research has also shown a correlation between alcohol use and other “health risk behaviors” among adolescents and young adults. So if you see your child, niece, nephew, or another young person in your life posting about alcohol and drug use or promiscuous sex, these red flags should not be ignored.
The good news is, by paying attention to social media posts, you may be able to pinpoint trouble before it gets too serious and talk to your loved one about your concerns.
How Can Alcohol Rehab in Costa Mesa Help You or Your Loved One to Overcome Alcohol Use Disorder?
Though it is tempting to brush off heavy alcohol use indications as normal considering the alcohol-centric culture on social media, a full-blown alcohol use disorder may sneak up on you more quickly than you think. If you suspect you could use some help, don’t ignore those feelings.
Contact Clear Life Recovery and get started with alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa, California, to get started or get more information.