Social media has become an ever-present part of modern life, and it has revolutionised the way we interact with each other. For people in recovery from addiction, social media can offer a powerful tool for connection and support, but it can also present challenges and risks.
On the one hand, social media can provide a sense of community for those in recovery who may feel isolated or disconnected from their support system. Online recovery groups, forums, and chat rooms can provide a space for individuals to share their experiences, seek advice, and find support from others who have been through similar challenges. This sense of connection and support can be especially valuable for those who live in areas where in-person recovery meetings may be scarce or difficult to attend.
We find this is true of our Towards Recovery, virtual recovery café. People come together online, via zoom, and we check-in, catch-up and usually discuss a ‘live’ topic of some sort. Not very planned but a simple format that allows us to connect.
We use a WhatsApp group for follow up info and the Strava app so people can engage in activity / exercise and that the group can see and comment on posts or just give Kudos to (Kudos is the equivalent of a ‘like’). We also provide extensive information on our website.
Social media can provide access to resources, information, and educational materials that can be helpful in promoting recovery. Recovery blogs, podcasts, and websites can offer information about addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention strategies. Social media can also provide access to online therapy and coaching services, which can be a convenient and cost-effective way to receive support and guidance.
However, there are also potential risks associated with social media use in recovery. For example, social media can expose individuals in recovery to triggers and temptations that could threaten their sobriety. Seeing posts or images related to drug or alcohol use could trigger cravings or negative emotions, and it could be difficult to resist the urge to use. In addition, social media can be a source of stress and anxiety, as individuals may feel pressure to present a perfect image of themselves or compare themselves to others.
Lets bear in mind social media can become so pervasive in peoples live that it can, and in many cases has, become “technology addiction” and at the end of this article I’ve included a short, 10-question, questionnaire to help you assess where you might be with your technology use.
Before we do that let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of social media in the broader sense, not just in relation to addiction recovery.
1. Connecting people:
Social media allows people to connect with friends and family members who live far away, as well as make new friends with similar interests.
2. Access to information:
Social media allows us to access news and information from all over the world.
3. Business opportunities:
Social media platforms have become an important marketing tool for businesses, providing a cost-effective way to reach a large audience.
Social media provides a source of entertainment, with users able to watch videos, read articles, and play games.
Social media provides a platform for cyberbullying, which can lead to emotional distress, anxiety, and depression.
Social media can be addictive, with users spending hours scrolling through their feeds, which can have negative impacts on mental health and productivity.
Social media can spread misinformation and fake news, which can have serious consequences on public health and safety.
4. Privacy concerns:
Social media platforms collect vast amounts of personal data, which can be misused, leading to privacy violations and identity theft.
It’s important to remember that while social media can be a powerful tool, it’s essential to use it responsibly and be aware of the potential risks.
Appendix: Technology Addiction Assessment Form
Instructions: The information is for your personal use only so please answer the questions honestly and to the best of your ability.
The purpose of this assessment is to help you identify potential signs of technology addiction.
1. Do you find yourself spending more time on your phone or computer than you intended?
2. Do you often check your phone or computer for notifications, even when you haven’t received any?
3. Do you feel anxious or irritable when you’re not able to access your phone or computer?
4. Do you neglect your responsibilities, such as work, school, or personal obligations, due to your phone or computer use?
5. Do you feel like your phone or computer use is interfering with your relationships or social life?
6. Do you feel like you’re losing control over your phone or computer use?
7. Do you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, irritability, or anxiety, when you try to reduce your phone or computer use?
8. Do you feel like you need to use your phone or computer more and more to get the same level of satisfaction or enjoyment?
9. Do you experience physical symptoms, such as eyestrain, headaches, or neck pain, as a result of your phone or computer use?
10. Do you feel like you’re unable to stop using your phone or computer, even when you want to?
Scoring: Give yourself one point for each “yes” answer. If you score five or more, it may indicate potential signs of technology addiction.
We recommend seeking professional help or support to address your concerns and improve your well-being.