Facebook Ads Can Boost the Desire to Drink

“There is more information on social media than just a post or a message. We are exposed to how other users respond to a post, and it is those responses that can influence your desire to drink. Our findings suggest that comments left by other social media users may either reinforce or negate the message from a post.”

~ Dr. Jonathan Noel, University of Connecticut

Per a new study just published in the current Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, younger adults who view an alcohol-positive ad on one of their social media sites may feel a greater desire to drink if other people have made comments that support alcohol consumption.

This is a form of online “peer pressure”—companies that manufacture or sell alcohol have significantly expanded their presence on social media, in an attempt to reach more young buyers.  If effective, these corporation-sponsored alcohol ads are often “Liked” and “Shared”,  sometimes by thousands or even millions of viewers.

As part of this study, participants viewed alcohol ads that contained either pro- or anti-drinking comments.  These ads were further separated as to whether they had a higher or lower degree of “user engagement”, as determined by the total number of Shares, Likes, and Comments.  After watching, participants were then asked if  they believed that the ad increased their desire to drink.

Ads that had both anti-drinking comments and a higher degree of user engagement resulted in the lowest desire to drink.  And compared with that established baseline, the combination of pro-drinking comments and high user engagement elicited a much stronger desire to drink— 3.5 times higher.

Even more relevant, study participants who viewed the pro-drinking ads reported that they were more prone to Liking or Sharing the ads than those who looked at anti-drinking posts.

Dr. Noel, who led the study, said, “[H]eavy alcohol users and those who are alcohol dependent may be the most susceptible to the potential effects of pro-drinking comments…and an increased desire to drink after exposure to alcohol cues may predict relapse after treatment for alcoholism.”

What Does This Information about Social Media and Drinking Mean to YOU?

If you or someone you know about has a problem with alcohol, this new study only emphasizes how a person’s environment can affect their behavior. And surprisingly, “environment” can refer to both the real world and online.

As part of the  Chapman House alcohol rehab program, clients learn how to avoid and respond to such external triggers.  While it may not be realistic to totally avoid all social media, there are effective strategies that can minimize any harmful influence.

If you live in Southern California, Chapman House is a premier alcohol treatment program located in Orange County.  Since 1978, Chapman House has utilized an evidence-based approach to recovery, thus helping generations of once-lost alcoholics safely navigate in a newer and healthier sober direction.

For more information and to get the help you need, contact Chapman House TODAY.