Predicting risky drinking: It might be all in the words


August 15, 2017

Rachel Kornfield
PhD Candidate
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Research Assistant 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 






The A-CHESS smartphone app provides addiction recovery services on-demand.  Analyzing the language used in A-CHESS discussion forums is helping researchers predict the likelihood of relapse. 
The words we say in daily conversation can provide a powerful window into our state of mind, including our moods, concerns, and priorities. General topics of discussion can be revealing (for example, if we’re talking about friends, the weather, or problems at work). But even more is often revealed by subtler styles of speech, including the pronouns we use, our emotional tone, and how we put our sentences together. These subtle linguistic differences are especially meaningful in an age when computers play an ever-increasing role in our lives. Technology and social media provide an array of new outlets through which to communicate. At the same time, computer science offers new tools to automatically measure subtle qualities of language. At the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS), our research uses social media language not only to understand people better, but also to help people improve their health.

Responding to the opioid epidemic

August 3, 2017

Ned Presnall
Executive Director
Clayton Behavioral
Adjunct Professor, Washington University


David Wojnarowicz at ACT UP's "Seize Control of the FDA" demonstration in Rockville, Maryland, on October 11, 1988. (Photograph by William Dobbs)

We should be marching in the streets over the state of opioid use disorder treatment.

The epidemic of accidental opioid poisoning has received increasing media coverage as opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed. But the magnitude of the problem is still largely unappreciated. The New York Times recently illustrated that annual drug-related mortality in the United States has surpassed peak annual deaths related to AIDS, gun violence, and car accidents. What’s most troubling is that the rate of opioid-related deaths is rising faster than ever.