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Papers of the Week

2022 Mar 11

J Addict Dis

Tones and themes in Reddits posts discussing the opioid epidemic.


Ramachandran S, Brown L, Ring D
J Addict Dis. 2022 Mar 11:1-7.
PMID: 35274598.


Reddit is an online social media website where users set up individual discussion forums (subreddits) on various topics. To gauge public perceptions of the opioid epidemic in the United States we analyzed discussions on the subreddits r/ChronicPain, r/Opiates, r/Politics, r/Health, r/News, and r/Science that were identified with the search terms "opioid", "opioid crisis", and "opioid epidemic". We identified categories in each subreddit and used IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding to analyze emotional tones and themes in comments from individual discussion posts. There were similar categories across subreddits including Health and Fitness, Addiction, Drugs, Disease, and Chronic Pain. Some categories and concepts were subreddit-specific such as the category "Law, Government, Politics" in r/News and the concept "analgesic" in r/Health. Across these subreddits and categories, there was an overall negative sentiment, with little difference in emotional tones. Themes were also similar across subreddits and categories and were limited to specific drugs: opioid, heroin, and morphine. Tone and theme analysis of public perceptions of the opioid epidemic on Reddit documented the negative sentiments associated with specific opioids among people from many different perspectives.