How Social Media Can Actually Help Your Recovery

While many people may scoff at social media, there’s no denying it’s a powerful tool. Social media can connect people all over the world with one another, which makes it a useful tool in finding people with a similar life experiences as you.

Social Media can be overwhelming sometimes, and a distraction from important tasks. But used correctly, social media can also be a great addition to your process of addiction recovery.

It may go without saying that you should “unfollow” toxic accounts that could cause a backslide. Or if you can’t unfollow, at least “mute” those accounts so you’re not seeing the content. Focus on filling your feed with positive reinforcement and words of wisdom that affirm your decision to recover.

There are many ways social media (not just Instagram and Facebook) can help during recovery. Things like keeping you connected to friends and family, joining online support groups, and following other accounts on similar journeys.  

In fact, there are even sobriety “influencers” who have accounts dedicated to remaining sober, using hashtags like #SoberisSexy and #SoberLife. You want to be surrounded by positive influences like this in your real life, but also on social media, as we have become relatively isolated this past year.

And if you think no one is going through what you’re experiencing right now, the evidence shows otherwise. There are almost 1.6 MILLION posts using the #SoberLife hashtag.

One of the most visible “sober influencers” out there, Russell Brand, is a comedian, actor, and writer and has utilized the 12-steps to overcome addictions to both alcohol and heroin. His recovery website, Commune, has over 1.6 million subscribers and focuses on guided yoga, meditation, and lectures to help those struggling with or who have overcome addiction. He also posts regularly on his account.

So what are some of the ways social media can positively impact your recovery?

1. Keeping you connected to friends and family

Today, staying connected digitally is more important than ever. When you can’t physically meet all of your support system in person for chats, staying connected to friends and family on social media is the next best thing.

Virtually all social media apps offer some form of video chat feature, which you should absolutely take advantage of. And if video chatting isn’t your thing, simply sending a direct message or sharing some funny posts back and forth is always a great pick-me-up.

Regardless, you should remain connected to friends and family who are a positive influence on your journey of recovery and, as mentioned earlier, either mute or unfollow negative or toxic accounts.

2. Joining online support groups

Another form of social media is support groups. And there are many (like Russell Brand’s) that you can find through social media.

The 12-step program isn’t for everyone and many sobriety influencers have shared their approaches to this program that have worked better for them personally. If you resonate with a certain sobriety influencer, check their account and see what methods they used and whether they will work for you.

There are groups out there for people who have recently been in an inpatient facility and want to find a community, and groups for those pursuing outpatient options, such as Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT-based programs.

3. Following accounts on similar journeys

Similar to the last bit of the second step, finding similar accounts to yours and focusing on people embarking on (or who have completed) similar journeys can be cathartic.

This doesn’t mean you have to turn your own Instagram into a sobriety page. But if you follow along with these accounts or turn on post notifications, they can be a good way to brighten your day when you’re having a tough time or remembering how far you’ve come by someone else’s’ account.

It’s important to remember that every journey is different and what worked for someone on social media might not work for you. And also remember, you’re changing all the time. Accounts that resonated with you on a certain part of your journey may not be the ones that continue to provide that same level of sober support, and that’s fine. You can always unfollow, refollow, or mute accounts at your will. And it’s important to remember that social media itself can be incredibly addicting, which is something to be mindful of. The bottom line is, your time spent online can and should be catered to assisting in your recovery, not hindering it.

Remember, you’re in charge of your online presence and you control the content you consume.


About the Author

Paula Nicola, M.D.
Dr. Nicola is the Facility Director at Renu. She is a trained and board certified medical doctor with specialized training in addiction medicine.

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