Can Social Media Trigger A Relapse?


  May 24, 2018    

In today’s modern world, sharing and accessing information is as quick and simple as clicking a button, but can it trigger a relapse? Social media platforms are widespread and have changed how we interact and communicate with each other. And, while this way of networking has become commonplace, it holds its own risks, especially for those who are in recovery. Knowing the links between substance abuse and use of social media is a key step when drawing up a plan for relapse prevention.

Social Media Cues for Substance Abuse

The whole point of social media is to keep friends within easy reach of each other. Co-workers, friends, and family members, who could have a lot of influence on you as you go through the process of recovery, can contact you easily through social media platforms. When your peers promote alcohol and drugs through social media profiles by sharing images and posting updates when they are at parties or in other environments, you are put at a much greater risk of a relapse.

What Is Social Media’s Effect on Relapse and Addiction?

Evidence was presented in 2012 by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) that suggested there was a clear correlation between the use of social media and addiction relapse. Ninety percent of the people who are in rehab have access to social media platforms, and most have admitted that they experienced temptation and cravings to start using again when they had been exposed to their friends’ statuses glorifying substance abuse.

A 2013 study by the University of Michigan also showed that there was a clear link between the use of social media and the chances of developing substance addiction. It is thought that this is because young people often start experimenting with alcohol and drugs to try to feel as happy as other people who they see on their newsfeeds. Daily use of social media sites has been linked to five times the chance of smoking cigarettes, three times the chance of drinking alcohol and twice the chance of using drugs. It’s clear that going online, and, especially using platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be fraught with danger when you’re in recovery.

Avoiding Potential Triggers Online During Recovery

Although it’s hard to avoid online triggers, it is possible to be aware of potential temptations without actually having to forego your social media completely. Here are some tips to help you to cope with recovery:

  • Avoid logging into your social media accounts if you feel you’re not at your best. If you’re not coping well or are in a bad mood, going online can make you feel less willing to work on your recovery. You could easily feel triggered by seeing images of partying friends across your newsfeed.
  • Don’t compare – One problem with social media comes from comparing our lives with those of other people. It is important to bear in mind that you will only be seeing a filtered look into the lives of others and you won’t really know what is going on with them. Nobody’s life is perfect, so be kind to yourself. And, if you feel tempted, don’t be afraid to talk to your sponsor, a family member or a friend.
  • Unfriend people who aren’t supportive – Setting boundaries in your social circle while you’re in recovery is vital. If somebody is posting or sharing things that trigger you, tell him or her and ask the person not to post anything similar again. If he or she doesn’t comply, unfriend the person straight away. Your emotional, mental, and physical health must be the most important thing, regardless of your previous relationship with that person.
  • Only share and read positive content — It can be hard to block out bad news on most social media sites. However, if you actively follow and share only content from those accounts that are positive, you will be able to build up a system of motivation and encouragement while you’re in recovery. This will also let those in your social circle know the kind of stuff that they can share on social media platforms with you.
  • Track success by using social media – Lots of users of social media use these platforms to share how they are progressing with challenges in their life, such as educational achievements or weight loss goals. You can share how you are progressing with your recovery, if you feel comfortable with it. By using social media to your advantage, sharing updates about how your life is going following addiction, you will not only help yourself, but you can help other people as well. You may also be able to use this platform to find other people and groups who are in recovery, too.

Learning How to Deal with Social Media Triggers

Social media platforms were originally created as a way to share and find information. If you use them mindfully, you can find them to be a wonderful way to connect and reconnect with other people you have known. However, if you overuse social media sites, you could find that you are causing yourself problems, especially when you are in recovery since there is no way of knowing precisely how much content you will see that will trigger a relapse. Recovery from addiction is challenging enough, but, if you are blindsided by triggers in an online forum, you will just find everything much harder.

It is, therefore, essential to develop a strong plan to prevent relapse with a social media-centric approach. Knowing how you can recognize hidden online dangers and working out ways that you can handle them will go a long way toward ensuring you have the best chance of remaining sober in the long term.

SOBA College Addiction Recovery Treatment Center can help you to address the root causes of your addiction and can help to create a tailored program of treatment and relapse prevention that will help you to steer clear of potential triggers and deal with any challenges you may encounter without resorting to alcohol or drugs.

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