The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund researchers who are studying the use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to prevent and treat substance use and addiction.
The NIH announced it will provide grants totaling more than $11 million over three years, according to Medical Daily.
"We hope to learn more about how changing technologies affect interpersonal communications and factual knowledge about tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, including the nonmedical use of prescription drugs," Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a news release.
Scientists can use social media to identify current attitudes and myths about alcohol, drugs and tobacco, the article notes. They can also use social media to convey accurate information to the public, and to learn about patterns of use, risk factors and behaviors associated with substance use.
Grant recipients include Dr. Sean Young of the University of California, Los Angeles, who will use his NIH award to study the feasibility of using social media to reduce prescription drug abuse among patients with chronic pain.
Dr. Yong Ge of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will use data mining techniques to extract tweets related to substance use. Dr. Warren Bickel of Virginia Tech will investigate whether social networks can support continued recovery.