I have conflicting feelings about social media and its effect on us. I see the potential harm to us . . . potentially reducing our in-person connections, increasing isolation and loneliness, increasing comparison – which does a number on our esteem, being an unhealthy platform for people to harass and hide. Despite these concerns, I am active on social media and find benefit to it. So I want to balance out those worries with some perks that social media can provide us and, in particular, many clients I serve.
One significant benefit from social media and the internet in general is the access to support and information that otherwise wouldn’t always be so accessible to people, such as those in rural areas with more limited resources. In that vein, I want to acknowledge resources that social media can provide in relationship to helping people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.
Disclaimer: Please don’t mistake this for the end-all-be-all of resources. Many times people need medical monitoring and more intensive treatment when working on recovery from their substance dependence or abuse.
For those who are coming out of intensive treatment and need to create new support, friends, healthy peers in their life, social media can be a goldmine. Back in 2015, The Dot had an article entitled Addicts on Instagram Find Social Media is the 13th step. A person can find these inspiring, healthy (yet many times very real and raw accounts) by looking up some of the hashtags, such as #soberliving #sobermovement #soberdating and #soberlife is a particularly popular one.
The social connection is not the only potential benefit online. There’s also treatment support. SMART Recovery is a non-12-step alternative treatment model with options for free online meetings and local in-person meetings as well. While it is not as large as the 12-step models with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) being the largest, SMART Recovery is growing and with the option for online meetings, it can be more accessible for some people.
While it’s always healthy to keep our discerning eye out, which is why social media has received a lot of backlash and criticism, let’s consider that many things aren’t all bad or all good. Just like in face-to-face life, it is all in the boundaries and the company you keep. Are you choosing to follow social media that feeds you the messages you need? As we move more into 2017, consider a social media re-vamping and let go of those images and interactions that do not support your movement toward being your best self.