Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. Research from Hootsuite shows that 88 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 use social media and the average internet user has more than seven social media accounts. [https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-statistics-for-social-media-managers/] We use social media to keep up with friends and family, follow current events, and follow our favorite celebrities. However, there are several reasons you might want to consider taking a break from social media or at least severely restricting its use in the first year of recovery.
Social media can be bad for your mental health.
There have now been quite a few studies on social media and mental health and many of those show cause for concern. One study by the University of Pennsylvania recruited 140 college students and gave them psychological questionnaires that asked them about feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and fear of missing out. [https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2018/11/16/new-research-shows-just-how-bad-social-media-can-be-for-mental-health/#76139d77af44] They divided the group into two: one group was asked to limit its social media use to 30 minutes per day, while the other group was asked to continue using social media as normal. After three weeks, the group that had limited their social media use reported reduced depression and loneliness. The effect was especially strong among participants who initially reported feeling more depressed. Given that depression is a major driver of addictive behavior, restricting social media use may be a good way to manage depressive symptoms in recovery.
Social media can expose you to negative influences.
When starting out in recovery, it’s a good idea to limit your exposure to people, places, and things that remind you of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, social media can expose you to all of those at any time. People love to post pictures of themselves drinking and having fun at the club, the bar, or the beach. However, they never post pictures of the fallout afterwards. Social media may also put you in contact with people who don’t support your recovery or may even try to actively undermine it. This is especially true on platforms like Facebook, where you have third party comments and less control over what content you see. You can unfollow certain people but you may still end up seeing things that cause cravings and make recovery harder.
Social media can become a transfer addiction.
Many tech industry insiders have now spoken out about how social media platforms are intentionally designed to be addictive. They even incorporate tactics casinos use to keep you engaged, such as alerts and variable rewards. This is dangerous for people new to recovery. Substance use throws your dopamine system way out of balance and it may take up to a year to respond normally to stimuli again. In the meantime, many people feel emotionally flat or even depressed. This makes them vulnerable to replacement addictions that can give a little of that old dopamine boost. Getting likes on a Facebook post may not be like drinking a shot of whiskey, but it will do in a pinch. Ultimately, you may end up engaging in the same kind of compulsive behaviors that made you miserable with substance addiction.
At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 817-381-9741 or contact us through our admissions page.