Social media gets a bad rap for its role in mental health issues like depression and anxiety, but there’s also an upside for many people – especially those recovering from addiction.

Imagine you’re recovering from an addiction. It’s 2 a.m. and you haven’t slept at all yet. The 7-11 on the corner sells beer round-the-clock. You could just grab a six pack. Only for tonight. Just to help you get to sleep.

But you know that would undo all the hard work you’ve done. It’s wrong. But it’s also irresistible.

You can’t wake your sponsor or anyone else at this time of night. What do you do?

You grab your phone and hit up your social media group. Someone else is awake and struggling with the exact same thing. You can be there for each other.

That’s just one way that social media can help in recovery. In this post, we’ll cover the benefits and dangers of social media in recovery.

Social media can be a powerful tool during this time, but it can also be dangerous. It’s important to know how to use social media to your advantage, or you could end up doing more harm than good.

Finding the Positivity

One reason why social media gets such a bad rap is because you have instant access to everyone’s unfiltered opinions. There are many accounts that glorify substance abuse. And if you stumble upon an account like this at the wrong time, it may be enough to send you over the edge.

But if you’re mindful about who you follow and where you spend time, social media can be a powerful tool.

Early in your recovery, you may want to avoid general social media sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It can be difficult to control what you see here, and this is a vulnerable time.

Instead, search out social sites that are completely dedicated to addiction recovery. These will be safe spaces where you can go when you need a little extra support or encouragement.

Sites like these typically include treatment resources and suggestions of where you can go if you need more help than the social network can provide.

When you’re a little more secure in your recovery, you can spend time on sites like Facebook, but be careful about who you follow. Avoid overly negative accounts or any that glorify addiction.

If these are close friends or family members, Facebook gives you the option of unfollowing instead of unfriending them. Unfollowing will remove their updates from your newsfeed, but they’ll never know. This will help avoid any unnecessary confrontation.

Groups are the best use of your time on Facebook. There are plenty of recovery support groups, so try to find one that works for you. It may be a small local group or a larger national or international group.

These interactive groups allow you to learn about different techniques that others have found useful as you get support navigating through recovery.

Everything in moderation

Nothing can replace in-person interaction or therapy, so try to balance your time spent on social media with time spent connecting with real people in real life.

Even if you find social media to be extremely helpful, don’t make the mistake of thinking it replaces a 12-step group program (or any other in-person support group).

The only exception to this rule is if you’re facing a roadblock where social media seems like the only acceptable choice for you. In this case, it’s better to get help than not. But you’ll still want to find professional help. Look for a counselor that will provide online sessions, and then find an active online support group.

Social media can be an amazing resource, but it can never be quite as authentic as personal therapy. As a recovering addict, you may be eager to find answers, but you don’t always know who is at the other end of the computer. This is why social media should be a part of your recovery and not the entire plan.

Leveraging the power of social media in recovery

Regardless of how you feel about social media, one thing is for certain. It’s not going anywhere, at least, not any time soon.

This doesn’t mean you have to embrace the medium. If you’re diametrically opposed to social media, you can find other ways to support your recovery. Although it can be a helpful tool, social media isn’t an essential part of recovery. People recovered from addiction before social media, and it’s possible to recover without it today.

But if you’d like to give it a shot, you may find that it’s worthwhile. Social media can offer the following benefits for someone in recovery:

  • Massive network of peers who have been through (or are going through) recovery
  • Endless supply of educational resources available online
    Access to information on alternative treatments that others have found useful
  • 24/7 support

And if you do decide to give a social recovery network a shot, follow these rules to avoid pitfalls:

  • Continue in-person groups and therapies
  • Understand that everyone you meet through social media isn’t an expert
  • You may have to weed through some less-than stellar advice to get to the golden advice that works

One of the best things about relying on social media through your recovery is that you get instant access to a supportive group. When it’s 2 a.m. and you just need someone to tell you to walk away from the bar, you’ve got it.

In this life, especially in recovery, we need all the help we can get. Social media doesn’t replace more traditional treatments, but it can definitely help you along the way. If you’re going to use social media, use it as a tool to help boost your efforts in other areas.

Now, I want to hear from you. Have you used social media in your recovery? If so, how has it helped? Are there any pitfalls you would want to warn against? Share your experience to help others find their own recovery success.

Author's Bio: 

Misty Jhones