Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with old friends and family members, or for keeping up with our friends in faraway places. It helps to keep our ever-widening social circles somewhat small. And it gives us an unprecedented level of access into the lives of others, including celebrities and pop culture icons. All of this is good in healthy doses. But anyone who is active on social media is aware of the trap that it can become. This is just as true for someone who is recently in recovery from a drug or alcohol problem.
Unfortunately, the media glorifies drug use and party culture. Some of the most popular movies and TV shows in the last 25 years have been focused on the lives of drug dealers and drug users. From Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street toMia Wallace in Pulp Fiction, heavy drug use has consistently been glamorized and celebrated. With the advent of social media, these depictions have come even closer to home. Whether it’s a “reply chug” Snapchat or just a video of a party at a friend’s house, images of substance abuse are commonplace throughout the various forms of social media. Personalities cash in on it too: earlier this month, lil Xan was rushed to the hospital after, “doing it wrong… going cold turkey,” he said on Snapchat. The rapper’s name is a clear reference to his Xanax use, from which cold-turkey detoxing can be fatal (more info on the dangers of Xanax withdrawal here). He suffered seizures and was rushed to the hospital by his mom, and was back on social media days later, letting his fans know he was fine.
For a person in early recovery, it can feel rather lonely scrolling your social media feeds. When drugs or alcohol have been so intertwined in your life, seeing images of those things, or even just hearing others glamorize them, can be triggering. But the good news is that there are popular and well-known figures on social media who are openly and proudly in recovery.
From Bradley Cooper to Demi Lovato, there are plenty of potentially new and interesting figures to follow and stay up to date with. For example, check out this Russell Brand video (caution: expletives), explaining the 12 Steps. There’s good content all throughout the internet, and there are inspirational voices of people who’ve overcome significant addiction-related challenges to come out on top. You can also check out Justin Luke Riley, the Founder and CEO of Young People in Recovery, a national advocacy group, and a friend of RCA. In addition to the various individuals in recovery, there are tons of blogs and support communities online that promote sobriety and recovery.
A few other pointers ….
- It’s OK to unfollow someone on social media, especially in an effort to support your sobriety. If the person doesn’t understand that, odds are they don’t understand your sobriety and you may want to rethink the friendship.
- Keep a motivational picture or quote as the background of your phone. This way, even if you leave social media feeling uneasy or discouraged, you’ll have instant positivity waiting for you.
- Use social media to help yourself or others. Facebook and Twitter can help struggling individuals find food, shelter, or even jobs. Coordinated Entry in DC is one help section that provides emergency housing, food, showers, and more.
- Utilize your supports. If you surround yourself with other people in recovery, all it takes is a simple message: I need help, I’m near a liquor store, I have a strong craving to rally your troops to help you through those tough moments.
The bottom line is that social media doesn’t have to be a detriment to your recovery. As with anything online, it’s important to be mindful of the people and groups that you follow. There’s plenty of good, positive content created for the sole purpose of helping you stay on your path to recovery. If it’s the first step you’re looking for, register for RCA’s daily inspiration. We send out emails regularly with hope and inspiration. Follow us on Facebook for more helpful pointer – we’re always sharing the latest news in the addiction world, inspirational messages, and motivational stories of people who have recovered from addiction. Check us out!