Tuesday September 19th 2017

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How can Facebook help support your addiction recovery?

The Opposite of Addiction

“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection.”  – Johann Hari

How can you start using Facebook in your recovery? First, we talk about why you need to be connected in recovery (a little science comes into play). Then, we discuss ways you can use Facebook for support. We’ll cover some basic guidelines to help keep you SAFE and SOBER online. Plus, we review how you can get your family involved.

More ideas about using Facebook for good here. Finally, we invite your questions or comments in the section at the end. We try to respond to all our readers both personally and promptly.

Addiction Recovery and Connection

Ever heard of the social connection theory of addiction? It’s a new perspective on the cause of substance use disorders based on the belief that addiction stems from a lack of social connection. First researched by Canadian psychologist Bruce Alexander in an experiment called “Rat Park”, during which scientists observed the real power of community. The scientists watched as caged and isolated rats addicted to cocaine, morphine, heroin, and other drugs prioritized drinking water containing very high doses of the drugs over everything else.

True addiction.

Drug use was often at the expense of administering food and clean water. Drug use sometimes even pushed the rats to the point of death. But then the scientists discovered something new…

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Alexander then placed the morphine-addicted rats in a resort-like enclosure called “Rat Park,” which was a spacious, comfortable, and natural setting. Male and female rats were free to play, cohabit, nest, and reproduce. Rats in “Rat Park” were also offered a choice between morphine-laced water and plain water.

In a supportive environment, rats in “rat Park” mainly chose plain water instead of the morphine, even though they would experience withdrawal symptoms, and even when the morphine-laced water was sweetened to make it even more appealing.

Recent studies complement Alexander’s findings. In fact, scientists today are finding truth in the notion that connection makes a big difference in a person’s recovery. They also agree that environmental enrichment can help protect against relapse.

Why Use Facebook in recovery?

People in recovery who abstain from substance use do not always have the ability to get out of addiction treatment and enter the human version of “Rat Park”. In many cases, help with “real-life” problems and social community support is just not available. And, although not the same as physical presence, connection through social media can be a positive support system for people in recovery from addiction.

Facebook, in particular, has become a hub for people in all stages of recovery. These people are willing to be open about their experiences online. What’s more, the community is growing. There are pages on Facebook for those in recovery. There are individuals who celebrate their sober anniversaries publicly. There are also treatment centers in the mix. In fact, Facebook hosts pages for those who are seeking treatment, as well as for family members who have loved ones suffering from addiction.

Tips For Healthy Facebook Use in Recovery

Let’s be honest. Not all shares are appropriate or well-positioned.

If you are ready and willing to use Facebook as a communication and support tool in your recovery, make sure you check out the few suggestions first. These tips will help you make sure that you can get the most out of your Facebook experience while keeping your dirty laundry in the closet.  Sharing in addiction recovery can a give and take. But, be sure to:

1. Keep your general public posting positive. Share memes, funny stuff, or inspiration. Do NOT share your deep needs publicly. You can open yourself up to trolls or predators. If you’re in need of emergency help, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Professionals are ready to pick up the phone 24/7.

2. Create a private recovery group for trusted friends only. Share updates with people in real time. Not only write updates, respond to other people there. Creating an inner circle can be super empowering. Give and take and grow.

3. Reach out to trusted friends in a private chat and talk about what’s really going on in the moment. While recovery can be dramatic, resist the urge to share your every thought with your every contact. Some people will simply not get it. Again, only communicate openly and honestly with those you trust. And even then, it can be good to pick up the phone.

4. Attend Facebook Live events on addiction topics. Informative Facebook Live events include interactive discussions held by people in recovery themselves as well as by experienced medical specialists. One great example are the Live Events recently hosted by Sunspire Health. These events cover a variety of topics such as:

Discussions like these can educate and inform both people in recovery and their families.

5. Follow addiction content. “Like” treatment centers, rehabs, or addiction publications so that you get their content in your feed. The Addiction Blog FB page is a good place to start. Also, check out Sunspire’s rehabs here:

Family Facebook Support In Addiction Recovery

Encouragement and motivation from loved ones can come through Facebook. In fact, the most obvious benefit to positive status updates about your recovery can be responses from friends and family. Encouragement, virtual support, suggestions, and motivation can show that your loved ones really do care about you and hope you get better.

In addition to that, you can share about your recovery success with your loved ones. Posting on social media about sobriety milestones can serve as a positive reinforcement. For example, many people in recovery share and celebrate their “recovery birthdays” openly, giving hope to those who are on the same journey. There is also an option you can use so not everyone can see what you are posting if you want to share something only with your closest family and friends. Simply use the timeline submenu item labeled “health and wellness” and combine it with the privacy settings for visibility.

Peers and Professionals Are Also On Facebook

We also want you to know that there are many 12-Step based support groups on Facebook. You can join some already existing ones, or form your own Facebook recovery support group. These groups can be hugely effective tool for keeping the community power of recovery working. Plus, you can choose from a ton of different types of groups to find the ones that work best for you…they can be closed or open groups, with or without controlled membership, orientation, etc. The best thing about these groups is that you can ask questions, share experiences, or encourage others to seek help.

Are There Any Downsides Of Addiction Recovery Facebook Use?

Sure.

Facebook and other social media networks can have their downsides in recovery. Responses may not be immediate. Responses may not always be positive. If the positives seem to outweigh the negatives…go for it! After all, digital or not, Facebook offers a way for people in recovery to communicate, reach out for support, and also learn.

Got Any Questions?

If you have anything that you’d like to ask or add, or want to share a personal experience about using Facebook as a support tool in recovery from addiction you can use the designated section at the bottom of the page. Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions about social media engagement in addiction recovery. We do our best to provide personal and prompt answers to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources: NIDA: Using social media to better understand, prevent, and treat substance use
ASAM: Facebook Groups Offer Recovery Support
NCBI: Young Adults, Social Networks, and Addiction Recovery: Post Treatment Changes in Social Ties and Their Role as a Mediator of 12-Step Participation

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