Who doesn’t know about social networks? There are over 100, but the most popular ones in the world would include Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Most likely if you do not have a Facebook profile, you know someone who does. Both Facebook and Twitter give its users the options to post updates on activities, thoughts, events, and situations in a user’s daily life.
At The Cabin Chiang Mai, we have had clients or their families ask us our opinion on using social networks during recovery. Since these social networks are so popular, we felt like this is a really important subject to address.
It is crucial that a person in recovery is cautious about various things that they do and certain situations they get themselves into. Many people in recovery use social networks as a way to connect with family, friends, and co-workers.
We will first address the positive aspects of using a social network during recovery.
Using the status update on a social network like Facebook gives the addict in recovery the opportunity to post things that are going on in their life. If the recovering addict is having a difficult time, by using the status updater, they are able to reach out to anyone who is part of their friend’s list. These people can help them sort out their situation and hopefully give them the right advice that will help the addict in recovery to avoid a relapse.
The recovering addict can also use the updater to announce certain accomplishments in recovery. For example, if they have been sober for 90 days, they can proudly tell all those they are connected with on the social network. Nearly all people who see these types of announcements will leave positive comments and feedback. These provide the individual with positive reinforcement and add to the reasons to continue on with sobriety. Additionally an addict in recovery can post meeting and event announcements relating to drug and alcohol addiction recovery. This gives the opportunity for anyone else struggling with addiction to find out about these events.
There are various groups on social networks that help people battle addictions, support current addicts, and help those in recovery. Anyone who is dealing with these difficulties can join one of these groups and meet people going through the same thing. These are great places to find support and also go to whenever there is the availability of a computer and an internet connection. While group meetings and support groups are great places, these addiction related groups on social networks are always available at any time. It is also common for these groups to hold events throughout the world which may be useful to addicts in recovery, provided they are in the same area.
Now that we have addressed the positive aspects of social networking during recovery, let’s have a look at the negative aspects.
Some addicts in recovery will have had their social network account while they were still using. This means that most likely they were connected with other users who may still use. It is so important that anyone wishing to recover from an addiction to stay away from people who use. This is because hanging out with friends that still use, will almost always, cause a relapse. If an addict in recovery wishes to use their same social networking account, it is in the individual’s best interest to remove people that could threaten their sobriety.
When using social networks, there is less privacy. An individual must take into consideration that if they are posting updates about their recovery, people will know about their addiction. Their contacts may post things on their ‘wall’ that will allow everyone to see it. For those that join addiction related groups, some systems show anyone they are connected with the groups that they are a part of. All in all if an addict in recovery is concerned about their privacy or does not want certain people to find out, then they should avoid social networks or at least avoid posting anything related to their addiction and recovery.
There are other, more private ways to discuss recovery issues. These include support groups and meetings. These are great places to meet people and talk about accomplishments and struggles while being completely anonymous.