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Text Messaging As An Alcoholism Treatment Tool

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Alcohol abuse treatment facilities have been known to have great success with helping those with alcoholism recover from their disease. There is one giant caveat of this success though, and that’s getting them to admit that they have a problem and to enter treatment. How are you supposed to help someone change their detrimental and dangerous ways when they’re not actively looking for help?

Text Messaging as an Alcoholism Treatment Tool?

A new study designed at the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh is looking into how text messaging can be used as an alcohol abuse treatment tool to interact with young adults. The aim of reducing their alcohol consumption with special regard to decreasing binge drinking.

According to Dr. Brian Suffoletto, one of the authors of the study, “Each day in the U.S., more than 50,000 adults 18 to 24 years of age visit hospital Emergency Departments, and more than one-third report current alcohol abuse or dependence. Thus, Emergency Departments provide a unique opportunity to both identify young adults with harmful or hazardous drinking behavior and intervene to reduce future injury and illness.”

The text messaging interaction can begin once a young adult is admitted into the Emergency Department at a hospital and displays signs of alcohol-related problems. Dr. Suffoletto and his staff see this as a unique opportunity for developing an alcoholism treatment tool as their research indicates that text messaging is not only an effective way to collect data on a young adult’s drinking habits, but also can provide feedback and continued support to them.

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The basis of this research is centered around the fact that most young adults have cell phones and text messaging has evolved into a primary communication tool, so the team at the University of Pittsburgh “sought to build and test an automated text messaging system that could conduct a health dialogue with young adults after discharge,” according to Dr. Suffoletto.

This is the first study of its kind to attempt to use text messaging as a behavioral modification tool of alcohol abuse treatment, and it could be quite revolutionary if proven effective. The researchers feel that an individual being admitted into an Emergency Department of a hospital is a severe enough incident that it can be used as a teachable moment to communicate the dangers of continued alcohol abuse, with regard to sustaining or causing alcohol-related injuries or illnesses.

If nothing else, this study has already proven that text messaging is an effective way for doctors to reach and communicate with young adults, after they’ve been discharged from a hospital, which is important in and of itself. Now, they can only hope with continued studies that they can fine-tune their sentiment of alcohol abuse treatment in these messages to really effect change in these young adults.

Destination Hope is a full-service drug and alcohol abuse treatment facility in Florida. Our goal for all of our clients who step through our doors is to achieve and maintain sobriety. Our experienced staff is trained to provide all necessary support in achieving that goal.

If there’s someone in your life who’s developed a problem with alcohol, put them in contact with the folks at Destination Hope immediately. This is a problem that will not get better on its own, but with our help, it can.

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