Social Media Recovery Communities in a Pandemic World
Social media has quickly become a popular lifeline for many struggling with addiction. As many know, mental and behavioral health problems are skyrocketing due to Covid-19. In contrast, many traditional treatment service providers had to significantly adjust their operations, while other treatment providers scrambled to meet growing demand.
For many, social media has become a fundamental part of their care plan. Although social media recovery communities have always been a popular aftercare option, the pandemic increased the role that social media played in recovery. Prior to the pandemic, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and Harvard, indicated that 2.5 million U.S. adults used social media in their recovery. That number has exponentially risen.
Joining a Popular Social Media Recovery Community
While there’s a number of recovery communities through all social media platforms, we’ll focus on Instagram and TikTok for the purposes of this article. Different social media pages offer different services, though all serve as a community for individuals in some form of recovery. For example, on TikTok, @addictionrecovery features Dr. B, a medical doctor, who answers a range of questions related to addiction and other health topics. Other TikTok communities generally feature someone who shares their story of addiction and recovery.
On Instagram, many recovery communities are available to address specific populations, substances, and demographics. Kirstin Walker at @soberbrowngirls offers a fun Instagram page, as well as runs a blog and speaks on addiction to various publications. While there’s too many social media pages dedicated to recovery to list, there’s assuredly a style, message, and community for anyone looking.
Discernment When Joining a Social Media Recovery Community
While finding a community that speaks to you is great, it’s also important to practice a level of discernment. Sadly, some social media recovery communities have pivoted away from offering a community for support. Rather, it’s pretty evident these profiteering sites have style-over-substance motives. There’s absolutely nothing wrong about selling swag, branding, or linking to other endeavors. Honestly, that’s part of being in a community for many. You wouldn’t feel swindled wearing a baseball hat of your favorite team. However, when the profiteering begins to eclipse the collective, set goals of a community, then it’s important to notice this and avoid it. You’d be joining a brand over a support group.
In addition, there’s value in finding a group a little outside your comfort zone. Recovery is about new experiences, new people, and new possibilities. If you joined a group that made you feel completely comfortable, you wouldn’t learn much. These groups would merely echo your opinion, which can be a bit dangerous in recovery. It would allow little room for growth. To avoid this, consider joining a few different social media recovery sites. The variance in tone, message, and style will offer more well-rounded support. Create the online support community that truly works for you.
Integrating Offline Strategies into Your Treatment Plan
Get outside. Garden in the backyard. Paint the apartment. Read a book. Do the dishes. It doesn’t matter. Just unplug. While social media communities can offer support, they do not have the capacity to offer everything you may need mentally, behaviorally, or spiritually. Obviously, the pandemic has made some activities challenging, if not impossible, but there’s definitely value in unplugging.
Support definitely plays a role. But remember, it’s you finding a support group for you. The ‘you’ is the important part in this equation. To recovery is to grow and learn how to live without a reliance on substances. Supplementing substances with social media, even if it’s dedicated to recovery, would be counterproductive and possibly dangerous. However, social media can play a fun, supportive, and valuable role in recovery when integrating mindfully.