A social media intervention for high-intensity drinking among emerging adults: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Alcohol Alcohol. 2024 Jan 17;59(2):agae005. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agae005.


Aims: High-intensity drinking (HID) is a pattern of risky drinking defined as at least 8 drinks (for women) or 10 drinks (for men) in a single episode. Individuals engaged in HID may be at greater risk for consequences, necessitating tailored interventions. Herein, we report the feasibility and acceptability of a social media-delivered 8-week intervention for emerging adults with recent HID.

Methods: Using social media advertising, we recruited 102 emerging adults who reported past-month HID. Average age was 20.0 year-olds (SD = 2.0); 51.0% were male. Most identified as White (64.7%; 14.7% Black/African American, 13.7% multiracial) and 26.5% identified as Hispanic/Latinx. Participants were randomized to an 8-week intervention delivered via Snapchat by health coaches (N = 50) or to a control condition (psychoeducational website referral; N = 52). Follow-ups occurred at 2 and 4 months post-baseline.

Results: The intervention was acceptable (85.1% liked it/liked it a lot) and there were high follow-up rates. Participants rated coaches as supportive (91.5%) and respectful (93.6%). Descriptively, helpfulness ratings were higher for non-alcohol-related content (e.g. stress; 59.6% very/extremely helpful) than alcohol-related content (40.4% very/extremely helpful). Regarding engagement, 86.0% engaged approximately weekly and 59.6% indicated they saved intervention snaps. Descriptive data showed reductions over time in several measures of alcohol consumption and consequences as well as cannabis-impaired driving and mental health symptoms.

Conclusions: This 8-week social media intervention for HID was feasible and acceptable among emerging adults, supporting the benefit of future testing in a fully powered trial.

Keywords: emerging adults; high-intensity drinking; motivational interviewing; social media.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / therapy
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Social Media*
  • Young Adult