Recovering from addiction is a lifelong process. Social media is such a big part of our lives, and it can have risks and benefits in the recovery process.
Addiction recovery is a long journey of discovering internal truths and coming to understand oneself. Recovery support is crucial during this journey. Social media has become a significant part of our social fabric, and this can have positive and negative effects on people who are in recovery from substance use disorder.
Benefits of Social Media in Recovery
One of the most beneficial uses of social media in recovery is the peer recovery support community. The use of online sobriety support groups expands one’s circle of recovery to include people one normally wouldn’t have access to outside of social media. The like-minded camaraderie of peer support groups online can offer so many benefits and can aid in relapse prevention. Social media is effective in the use of recovery because it is a constant presence, available as needed. Because social media sites are ubiquitous in nature, people from all over the planet are accessing them to communicate with peers. Sometimes, the need for support can span into hours when there are no options for face-to-face peer support or group meetings. During these times, social media recovery support is most beneficial.
The anonymity of online connection can also create a sense of safety for people who struggle with self-disclosure. Being able to share and confide in people who have no other connections to your life outside of social media can be liberating.
People who have face-to-face connections with others in recovery and are also on social media with them can have an additional benefit of both forms of support. The accountability of sharing one’s progress in recovery on social media can also offer a practical means of staying on track and avoiding pitfalls.
The general support of friends and family on social media can help build resilience to avoid relapse during difficult moments. Sometimes, people feel as if they can be more expressive about their challenges in writing than in face-to-face interactions. Social media can offer people in recovery a way to tell their story openly and share their journey.
Avoiding Addiction Triggers on Social Media
When in recovery, relapse triggers are everywhere. Social media is no exception. Feelings of loneliness in recovery are common, and this might increase the use of social media in an effort to feel connected to others. This is a healthy way to connect during times of loneliness or isolation, but it can also be linked to triggers that could result in urges to use.
One trigger that many people experience on social media is comparison. As we all know, many people use social media to post about the bright spots in their lives; we don’t see their struggles, self-doubts and bad days. If a person in recovery looks at the glowing, happy posts of others and compares their own reality to the social media version of others, that can result in negative self-evaluation. In addition to this risk, the growing presence of drugs on social media may also pose a risk to recovery. Even if friends and family on social media abstain from these types of postings, advertisements and other content can show up on one’s social media feed, and these can impact recovery and trigger urges to use.
Social Media Shouldn’t Replace Face to Face Support
Social media can have a number of benefits for those in recovery, but one must beware of triggers and safeguard against urges to use. The recovery process is lifelong. Even the best online support system can’t replace face-to-face support. Recovery meetings are an important part of the framework that establishes a healthy foundation for the maintenance of sobriety. Family support in recovery is another important factor that can make a difference in the recovery journey.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, reach out to The Recovery Village and get support. The Recovery Village offers a variety of comprehensive treatment options.
Israelsen-Hartley, Sara. “Social media and sobriety: How Facebook helps people kick a bad habit.” Deseretnews.com. December 26, 2018. Accessed August 5, 2019.
Grant, Donald; Dill-Shackleford, Karen E. “Using Social Media for Sobriety Recovery: Beliefs, Behaviors and Surprises From Uses of Face to Face and Social Media Sobriety Support.” American Psychological Association. 2017. Accessed August 5, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.