Indexed on: 29 Jul '13Published on: 29 Jul '13Published in: Journal of alcoholism and drug dependence
It is challenging to identify older adolescents at risk for alcohol dependence. This study investigated first-year college students who scored as dependent alcohol users (DAU), and examined their alcohol use and Facebook displays.This longitudinal study recruited college students at two universities to complete a phone interview prior to college (Time 1) and one year later (Time 2). Interviews assessed lifetime and current alcohol use, and attitude (scale of 0=very negative to 6=very positive) and intention (scale of 0=not at all likely to 5=very likely) toward alcohol use. The alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) was administered at Time 2. Facebook profiles were evaluated for the presence of references to alcohol use and intoxication/problematic drinking (I/PD) prior to and throughout the participants first year at the university. Analyses included Chi-squared tests and Wilcoxon sign rank tests.Of 315 participants in the study, a total of 21 (6.7%) of participants met criteria as a DAU at Time 2. DAUs were 54.5% female, 86.4% Caucasian, and 73.7% from University A. At Time 1 all DAUs reported lifetime alcohol use and 91.1% were current drinkers. At Time 2, 95.7% were current drinkers. At Time 1, DAU's mean attitude toward alcohol was 4.0 (SD=1.0) and mean intention was 4.0 (SD=1.4); by Time 2 attitude was 4.6 (SD=0.9), p=0.02, and intention was 4.9 (SD=0.3). At Time 1, 39.1% of DAUs displayed alcohol references on Facebook but only one referenced I/PD. By Time 2, 20 DAU profile owners (90.4%) displayed some reference to alcohol and 52.2% referenced I/PD.Findings suggest areas in which dependence could be identified early, specifically attitude towards alcohol and assessment of Facebook profiles for references to alcohol. These findings have the potential to guide future intervention efforts for this high-risk population.