In the past, people found addiction support mainly through in-person counselling and books or magazines. But with the rise of the internet came access to many more kinds of recovery content: podcasts, blogs, films, music, and of course, social media. This article is a collection of tips and insights on using social media as a recovery tool.
To better understand the role that social media can play in your recovery, let’s assess some known benefits of, as well as risks to, our favorite pastime… which is scrolling through our feeds.
The Benefits of Social Media During Recovery
Particularly in recent years, there's been an emphasis on the risks and dangers associated with social media. However, there are some advantages to social media as well.
Social Connectedness & Support
Each of us has an inherent need for social connectedness. In short, we simply fare better when we feel we belong. Unfortunately, when it comes to substance use disorder, overcoming loneliness is one of the greatest emotional challenges. But social media offers a space to connect and rebuild relationships with friends and family when it would physically be impossible or inconvenient, and isolated from the effects of addiction.
Access to Information
Social media gives us easy access to information and resources, not just about addiction but on virtually any subject. Although it’s worth being mindful that information shared isn’t necessarily factually accurate, social media is largely a smorgasbord of knowledge.
Elevating Your Mental Health
Hoping to better understand the relationship between social media and mental health conditions like depression, researchers found social media can create a channel and opportunity for creative self-expression, which can be a valuable tool for maintaining one's mental health. In addition, opportunities for interaction afforded by social media have made mental health more accessible as well.
Ultimately, the study concluded that social media presents a paradox for mental health, forcing us to focus on the risks potential risks that social media could pose to recovery.
What Are the Risks of Using Social Media in Recovery?
There are a number of risks associated with using social media in recovery, starting with the negative effect that it can have on one's emotional state. Research has shown that social media can lower one's self-image while allowing misinformation to be disseminated more easily, which is a dangerous combination.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Social Media & Your Self-Image
Using social media can result in low self-esteem. Many people tend only to share the best parts of their lives on social media, resulting in people feeling self-conscious about their own lives and in creating unrealistic goals; in turn, making us more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. This is especially concerning if you are in recovery since addiction likely already puts you at risk for comorbid conditions like depression.
Made to Be Addictive
Social media can become an addiction in and of itself. As the rate of this type of addiction rises, scrutiny of social media algorithms is increasing. For those who have experienced addiction to alcohol or drugs in the past, the likelihood that you'll end up effectively trading one addiction for another is, unfortunately, quite high.
With little to no vetting being done on social media content, discerning whether something is accurate or "fake news" can be tricky. Considering the risk, it’s worth considering whether you should be on social media at all while you are in recovery.
Should I Use Social Media for Recovery?
Addiction is not a cookie-cutter disease; no two people’s recovery journey is identical. There’s no definitive answer as to whether taking a break from social media is the best course of action as it must be answered on a case-by-case basis.
For those who have only recently taken the first steps toward recovery, the recommendation is to remove anything that could be a distraction or a trigger – and frequent scrolling on social media can fall into either category. As such, it’s probably best to limit or temporarily disconnect from social media in the early stages of recovery.
That said, using recovery support on social media once you are ready provides an opportunity to continue working on your recovery while staying connected to friends, family and your local community. This bolsters your social support network on- and offline. With this in mind, let’s look at some simple strategies for using social media for recovery.
Tips on Using Social Media During Recovery
How can you leverage social media as a recovery tool? Here are four simple strategies:
- Fill your feed with positivity and accurate resources
- Join a supportive recovery group
- ‘Spring clean’ your profile to avoid triggers
- Set limits on how much time you spend scrolling
Let’s unpack each of these tips a little further.
Fill Your Feed With Positivity & Reliable Resources
Curating a positive and informative feed means following accounts with uplifting content that can be a source of inspiration and motivation during each social media experience. Follow profiles and pages that advocate for mental health, holistic well-being, or a sober lifestyle.
If you are unsure where to find sound recovery support on social media, our Never Alone Recovery Facebook page is a great place to start. It provides free access to valuable resources, has information on community support group events, and offers motivation and encouragement.
Join Support Groups
Find a supportive recovery group to join on your preferred social network(s). These groups bring people together through their shared backgrounds and experiences, which is why they’re great sources of encouragement. Facebook is probably the most well-known for having lots of recovery support groups.
‘Spring clean’ your own social media profile to prevent triggers from popping up in your feed. This means unfollowing profiles that post harmful content, unfriending toxic people from your past, and leaving any groups that may endanger your sobriety.
Limit Your Usage
Be mindful of how much time you spend scrolling. Research shows we should limit our use of social media to no more than 30 minutes per day.
Putting all these tips into practice ultimately comes down to social media hygiene and identifying whether social media will help or hinder your journey.
Social Media: Ally or Enemy in Addiction Recovery
If there’s one thing we hope you take away from this, it’s that social media can be an ally or an enemy of your recovery. It comes down to how you’re using social media. If you feel unsure about how social media is impacting your recovery, here are a few reflective questions to help guide you:
- Is social media distracting me from my recovery in any way?
- Am I in a negative headspace or depressed mood after I spend time on social media?
- Am I staying up late simply scrolling through my feeds?
- Is social media preventing me from developing meaningful relationships with the people around me?
Suppose you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is usually an indicator for you to re-evaluate how you use social media. If you ever feel your recovery is in jeopardy, seek support.
Need Addiction Support? Never Alone Recovery Can Help
Do you have a loved one struggling with addiction? Do you need support for your own addiction? Never Alone Recovey’s services include insurance verification, rehab placement and intervention assistance. We provide you, or your loved one, with dedicated support to start the journey to recovery. Get in touch with our team today.