facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

National Institutes Of Health 'Mining' Social Media Sites For Drug Data

New grant money will assist the government agency in so-called observational research into how social influences play a role in shaping health behaviors.


Photo via Shutterstock

By McCarton Ackerman


| Share

College students may want to rethink posting that photo of themselves drinking because the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could soon be reviewing it. The NIH has committed $5 million to “mine” Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to assess the population’s alcohol and drug use, as well as provide “social media-based interventions aimed at altering behaviors.” The funding comes in the form of two matching grants.

Because nearly 80 percent of adults use some form of social media, the NIH believes it’s an invaluable resource to understand the risk factors, behaviors, and attitudes associated with both drug abuse and addiction. “Social influences play a key role in shaping health behaviors,” said the NIH in a statement. Consequently, social media are increasingly affecting people’s everyday behaviors, including their attitudes to issues relevant to health. In this context, behavioral scientists have the unprecedented opportunity to observe and systemically analyze the interactions occurring in social media in studies that may contribute to the goal of improving public health.”

The two primary investigative areas for the NIH project will be “observational research” and online interventions. The collected data will also be used for other studies involving underage drinking and the recent legal marijuana laws passed in Colorado and Washington.

The NIH begins accepting grant applications next month for $200,000 to $400,000 worth of funding annually on projects that last between two to three years, but only 12-14 grant applications will be approved. The federal government is also continuing to provide smaller grants for this specialty, recently giving $30,000 via the National Library of Medicine to learn how tweets can be used as “change-agents” for health behavior.

Most Popular
Sober Living
How I Forgave the Woman Who Helped My Son Die of an Overdose

She introduced him to the drug that eventually killed him. It took a long time, but eventually I had to treat her the way my son would have wanted.

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious San Diego rehab has a program for you—if you can tear yourself away from “the most amazing massages ever."

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv