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Text Messages Can Help Reduce Young Adults’ Binge Drinking

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Receiving text messages about binge drinking after visiting the emergency room can help young adults reduce their hazardous alcohol consumption by more than 50 percent, a new study suggests.

The study included 765 young adults seen in the emergency room, who had a history of hazardous drinking. The study participants were divided into thirds. One third received text messages for 12 weeks that prompted them to respond to questions about their drinking. They received texts in return that offered feedback on their answers, News-Medical.net reports. Another third received text messages asking about their drinking, but received no feedback. The remaining third received no text messages.

Participants who received both text message questions about their drinking and feedback said they decreased their binge drinking by 51 percent, and the number of drinks per day by 31 percent. Those who received only text messages or no text messages increased the number of days they engaged in binge drinking, which is defined as five or more drinks in one sitting for men and four or more drinks for women.

The study is published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“Each day in the U.S., more than 50,000 adults ages 18 to 24 visit ERs and up to half have hazardous alcohol use patterns,” lead researcher Brian Suffoletto, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in a news release. “More than a third of them report alcohol abuse or dependence. The emergency department provides a unique setting to screen young adults for drinking problems and to engage with them via their preferred mode of communication to reduce future use.”

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found excessive alcohol use accounts for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults ages 20-64 years in the United States.

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