Using Social Media as a Support Group

Using Social Media as a Support Group

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process. Whatever the issue, the addict must be vigilant for the rest of his or her life to avoid relapse. Because this level of focus is difficult to maintain for even the most driven people, addicts need a recovery partner. The two people can jointly support each other, each bolstering the other’s strength when needed. The advent of social media has exponentially increased the power of this relationship. Addicts in the southwestern US can now link up with help anywhere in the country or the world, improving their chances of sustained sobriety.

Signpost with the words Help, Support, Advice, Guidance and Assistance on the direction arrows, against a bright blue cloudy sky.

Here’s how social media plays an important role in recovery:

Constant Availability

The process of recovering from addiction is fraught with flash points of temptation, where the addict is just one wrong step from relapsing and losing everything that’s been gained so far. It’s during those times when an addict must have immediate access to someone who can help him or her stay sober. Before the massive growth of technology, that access probably came by telephone. Sometimes, the supporter was right there and ready to take the call. Other times, the friend was away from home, on the other line, or otherwise not reachable. Or the addict may have lost a phone number, lacked a quarter for a pay phone, or been unable to even find a phone. With social media, supporters are always available. Nearly everyone on social media logs on via phone at least part of the time, so the only rare gaps are now found with the scarce coverage drops or with drained batteries. When that help can be reached consistently, there’s less chance of relapse.

Linkages To Relevant Content

Social media does more than just connect people to each other. It connects groups as well. Recovering addicts gain strength from communicating with others. When they encounter struggles during their recovery, they can find support from being able to locate and communicate with others who may have encountered the same situation. There is strength in numbers, after all. Knowing that there are hundreds or thousands of others in a social media group that addresses recovery can give the addict assurance that it can be done. The addict feels less alone, and he or she can see that there are better days ahead. Finding, vetting, and joining these groups can give some depth to the help that addicts receive from individuals, and it can help them surround themselves with positive influences and accountability.

Reduction In Temptations

Stepping right up to the brink of relapse is a fairly common experience for recovering addicts. They have gone to a dealer or stopped at a liquor store, and they’ve made a purchase that could set them back to their old, destructive habits. They make a single phone call or social media message, hoping for that last chance at dodging the bullet. Many times, it works. The supporter convinces the addict to get rid of the substance, and the recovery continues.

But what happened in the days when those last pleas came in person? Unanswered phone calls have led the addict to the friend’s workplace or home, and instead of the friend helping in a weak moment, the friend experiences a weak moment as well, and they both relapse. Social media takes away most of that risk. Again, the high likelihood of finding help quickly reduces the need for in-person contact, and the helper is less likely to succumb when he or she is trying to help.

Total Mobility

So someone has made it through. Your support person has stayed clean, gotten an education, and landed a new job in another town. Twenty years ago, this could have spelled the end of the relationship, a change that could have also threatened your sobriety. When distance increased, communication decreased. Long-distance calls got too expensive, and the travel was also cost-prohibitive. The lack of frequent face-to-face meetings softened the ties between the two, leaving the addict without help. Whether it’s the person who moved or the person who stayed, sooner or later someone will have a weak moment and need help.

The relationship may have dissolved by then, or the accessibility may be too much. Instead of finding last-minute help, the addict gives in. Social media conquers distance. Now the relationship can thrive despite a distance of thousands of miles; thanks to shared daily communication through video conferencing, shared photos, and direct messages. The tie remains strong no matter how far it spans, and the support process thrives.