Research & Resources

Alcohol Use Disorder Narratives in U.S. Digital News Coverage and Engagement on Social Media

Researchers examined mainstream digital news stories about alcohol use disorder (AUD), including coverage of solutions to AUD and associations between stories and engagement on social media. Of articles focused on individuals (72.0%), most (62.7%) depicted individuals affected by AUD as criminals, as opposed to articles focused on individuals affected by AUD as engaging with alcohol use treatment or being in recovery (31.1%). Criminal depictions received over 8 times as many Facebook shares, compared to alcohol use treatment or recovery depictions. Law enforcement solutions were depicted most often (63.9%), followed by AUD treatment-oriented solutions (40.1%) and prevention-oriented solutions (15.8%). Law enforcement solutions received more than 5 times as much social media engagement than AUD treatment-oriented solutions and over 29 times more engagement than prevention-oriented solutions. Researchers stressed the need to increase news coverage featuring depictions of individuals who have successfully engaged with alcohol use treatment and recovery, insisting that coverage of AUD should incorporate more depictions of evidence-based, prevention-oriented, and treatment-oriented solutions to AUD.

This paper, “Alcohol use disorder narratives in U.S. digital news coverage and engagement on social media,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Cancer Institute and published in the journal Health communication.

Link to full item