For most people, spending time on social media is a daily habit. Whether catching up with friends on Facebook, tweeting silly jokes, scrolling through endless pictures on Instagram, or watching viral videos on TikTok, social media is how most individuals get their news and even relieve stress.
On the surface, this kind of behavior may seem like harmless entertainment and a needed diversion from the stressors of real life. However, upon further investigation, there may actually be a link between social media use and substance addiction.
One reason in particular is that, while social media platforms can encourage sobriety at times, they often glamorize drug and alcohol use within a variety of social settings. That’s why it’s so critical to understand social media’s influence on your life to see what impact it may be having on your substance use disorder.
Is Social Media a Trigger?
Recent studies have shown a connection between excessive social media use and addictive behavior.
Individuals who engaged in the research took a survey that measured their psychological dependence on specific social media platforms, and were then led through an exercise called the Iowa Gambling Task.
Participants who identified that they struggle with addiction performed measurably worse than the control subjects. This shows that social media can not only trigger substance use, but it can also exacerbate an existing substance addiction. (1)
How Social Media Can Fuel an Alcohol Addiction
The main way that social media impacts and influences alcohol use is the way consuming alcohol has become supremely normalized, and even glamorized, all over existing social media platforms.
For vulnerable social media users, this constant barrage of images and videos depicting alcohol use – and framing it as a way of interacting and connecting with others – has had a profound impact on initiating alcohol addiction and perpetuating existing alcohol use disorders.
This has been shown to lead to instances of binge drinking, addictive alcohol consumption, and full-blown alcohol use disorders within a wide variety of struggling addicts.
Add to this constant bombardment of alcohol use with the reality of people feeling like they’re missing out on celebratory moments, and the recipe is there to begin an unhealthy habit of drinking way too much, way too often.
This is believed to strongly affect people of all ages, but significantly impact younger adults who have grown up and become embedded in the age of constant social media use. (2)
How to Use Social Media Wisely to Prevent Alcohol Addiction Relapse
Using social media wisely, if you’re struggling with an alcohol use disorder, takes a bit of foresight and proper judgment. Because it enables you to connect with distant loved ones and share messages of encouragement with friends, social media is a convenient and fulfilling way to engage with special people in your life.
With this outlook, social media can be a healthy tool for people young and old, so focus on the following concepts to ensure your social media use provides a positive impact on your life:
- Manage the time you spend on social media. Studies have shown that keeping your social media usage to 30 minutes per day helps keep your emotions in check. It also enables you to avoid those constant temptations to consume alcohol to keep up with the posts you’re seeing online.
- Don’t focus solely on the photos. Being overly influenced by social media posts and videos is tempting. However, social media is often posed and purposeful, making every scenario seem perfect when, in reality, perfection is rare. Understand that you’re seeing only a snapshot of a person’s life … know that they also deal with stressful moments and even unhealthy decision-making when they’re not posting online.
- Take the time to create your own memories. While interacting in a healthy manner online can have its benefits, logging off and limiting your time on social media is essential to create real-life experiences on your own. Stop feeling like you’re missing out because of photos from other people; build your own moments and memories instead. Additionally, routinely logging off removes the constant alcohol visualizations, and allows you to root yourself in reality and the sober lifestyle you’re building. (3)
Tips on Must-Have Social Media Settings to Mute Common Triggers
Use these tips to monitor your usage and avoid unhealthy social media patterns:
- Customize your newsfeed to suit your lifestyle.
Many social media platforms have filters that enable you to exclude content you don’t want to see. Consider using the feature that lets you “mute” certain posts or phrases to avoid triggering visuals. It can go a long way in keeping relapse thoughts out of your feed and let you continue browsing content you want to see.
- Only follow people who encourage your sobriety.
Most social media content may represent lifestyles and attitudes that don’t exist. That’s why you should consider limiting the number of people you follow on all social media platforms. This could mean following only those who are close to you, make you feel good, and will be there when you need them.
- Every once in a while, turn it off completely and focus on your health.
When social media gets to be a drag, it may be time to detox. You may want to turn off your access during meals or when you’re spending time with friends and family in real life. That can be a nice way to get a break from electronics and connect with those in your life who mean the most to you. (4)
Build a Healthy Social Support Network Off Social Media
Unplugging from social media means purposefully spending time away from technology. This provides you the opportunity to focus on your own mental health while building your sober support network in real life.
After all, in your efforts to avoid alcohol and achieve sustained sobriety, you want to spend ample time around those family members and friends who support you by providing positive accountability and encouragement.
Holistic Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
Developing an alcohol use disorder, whether from triggers on social media or not, progressively deteriorates your physical body, disrupting the natural way in which it functions and destroying your ability to maintain a normal and happy existence. Opening your eyes to this reality before it’s too late can help initiate the healing process and potentially save your life. At Ranch Creek Recovery, you can quit your alcohol addiction, reclaim control over your health and body, and prepare to forge a sober, thriving life.
As a non-12-step rehab and holistic treatment center, a large component of our treatment program is rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy and holistic, experiential addiction treatment. Our team of treatment experts will work one-on-one with you to create a custom treatment plan that will meet you right where you are today and help you achieve your desired goals.
Learn more about our alcohol treatment program or contact us today to get your questions answered about our all-encompassing approach to alcohol addiction treatment. Learn how we treat alcohol addiction.
Contact us today to get your questions answered.
1) AK Journals. Excessive social media users demonstrate impaired decision making in the Iowa Gambling Task. Accessed June 27, 2021. https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2006/8/1/article-p169.xml.
2) Stanford. The Welfare Effects of Social Media. Accessed June 27, 2021. https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/facebook.pdf.
3) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Accessed June 27, 2021. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf.
4) MIT News. Nine tips for healthy social media use. Accessed June 27, 2021. https://news.mit.edu/2020/mindhandheart-nine-tips-healthy-social-media-use-0123.