August 20, 2019
2 min read
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Many who text, post on social media while high regret it later

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Joseph Palamar

Posting on social media, texting and knowingly appearing in photos while high was prevalent among people who attended electronic dance music, or EDM, parties; however, many who engaged in these behaviors reported later regretting it, according to study findings.

"Risky social media posts, including those showing people high on drugs, have the potential to cause embarrassment, stress and conflict for users and those in their social networks," Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH, associate professor of population health at NYU School of Medicine, said in a press release. "It can also have adverse implications for one's career, since the majority of employers now use social media platforms to screen job candidates and may search for evidence of substance use."

Palamar and colleagues reported the adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) and correlates of engaging in social media posting and related behavior while high using survey data from adults at EDM parties in New York City who reported lifetime illegal drug use.

Participants were asked about lifetime and past month use of 91 different illegal drugs as well as whether they ever posted on social media, called or texted someone and/or appeared in a photo while high on a drug. Researchers asked those who answered “yes” whether they regretted the behavior later, then examined demographic and drug-related correlates of these behaviors.

Of 872 adults surveyed, 34.3% reported posting on social media, 55.9% reported texting or calling someone and 47.6% reported being in a photo while high, according to the results published in Substance Abuse. Also, an estimated that 30.3% of participants have engaged in all three behaviors. The investigators also estimated that 21.4% of those who posted on social media, 30.5% of those who called or texted and 32.7% of those who were photographed while high felt regret afterwards.

Palamar and colleagues also found that past-month marijuana users were at greatest risk for engaging in each of these behaviors while high.

In particular, women and young adults were at higher risk for engaging in risky social media and related behaviors while high, especially with regard to posting. The results showed that females were more likely than males (aPR = 1.49; P = .003) and young adults aged 18 to 24 years were more likely than older adults (aPR = 1.62; P = .002) to post on social media while high.

Compared with white EDM attendees, black participants were consistently at lower risk for engaging in these behaviors while high. In addition, participants who identified as “other sexuality” were at consistently higher risk of engaging in risky social media and related behaviors while high compared with heterosexual participants.

"At least one in five experienced regret after engaging in these behaviors while high, suggesting that some situations may have resulted in socially harmful or embarrassing scenarios," Palamar said in the release. "While prevention programs have largely focused on physical safety — for example, not driving after drinking — such programs can also stress that using a smartphone while high can increase the risk of someone engaging in regretful behavior.” – by Savannah Demko

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.