Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction is not something an addict can do alone. They must have support from friends, family, and members in their 12-step groups. Not only do these people provide guidance, support, and understanding, but also they teach addicts how to build and maintain healthy relationships, which are necessary for human existence.
Up until recently, recovering addicts depended on these key individuals to get them through their early days of recovery and provide them with a healthy support network. As you can imagine, not all addicts have the same supportive environments around them. Not all families are intact or emotionally available, and not all communities have support services or programs. Those living in rural areas can be especially limited.
Today, the landscape is much different. Thanks to social media, smartphone apps and the Internet in general, recovering addicts have many tools available at their fingertips. Social networking can be a lifeline for some addicts and provide them with the immediate support they need, especially when they would otherwise have no one or nothing else.
If you or someone you love is working through recovery, social networking may offer invaluable support. Here are some of the ways that the Internet is being used to help recovering addicts.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter keep people connected with each other. Recovering addicts do not need to feel alone. The key, though, is to build a healthy online presence so that the News Feed is not filled with old friends posting status updates or photos of people, places and things that can trigger strong emotions. Instead, recovering addicts should delete all friends and acquaintances that are not part of their sober life and become followers of pages that offer support for addicts.
If you visit The River Source on Facebook or Twitter, for instance, you’ll find information about upcoming meetings, new blog posts, and inspirational quotes. Other rehab centers feature people who are celebrating a certain length of time in recovery, and others serve up healthy recipes, fun things to do and tips for staying clean, sober and happy. Bottom line: Social media keeps people connected in a healthy, constructive manner and prevents isolation.
There are a handful of wonderful apps on the market that is designed to help to recovering alcoholics. Features include stress management tips, healthy distractions, spiritual passages and direct links to a support person. Since we all have a tendency to keep our smartphones with us 24/7, many of these apps have proven effective in helping recovering addicts stay on track with their goals.
Online Forums and Discussion Boards
Online forums and discussion boards give addicts a chance to talk with other people who are are going through or have gone through similar experiences. The benefit to online forums is that there is no time restriction, so someone who is dealing with strong cravings at 2 in the morning can seek relief. Each forum is different, but the fact that people can talk to each other while letting down their guard is helpful. Examples of healthy discussion boards include AA-Intergroup.org, AddictionRecoveryGuide.org, and AddictionSurvivors.org.
Online Support Meetings
Discussion boards have a more laidback environment because people sign on at various times. Some sites offer structured support meetings in an online fashion, such as 12Step.org and MeetingsOnline.com. Here, recovering addicts can view online voice and video footage of 12-step meetings. The goal of these sites is to bring 12-step meetings within reach to the people who need them, such as those who don’t have vehicles, can’t drive or live in rural areas.
More rehab centers are creating their own YouTube channels to provide information and support for recovering addicts and their families. The River Source offers a handful of interesting videos that explain therapeutic recovery techniques such as hypnotism and neurofeedback. These channels provide recovering addicts with invaluable support that makes their recovery more positive and enjoyable. Seeing familiar faces also gives addicts the motivation they need to continue their journey.
Where Social Networking Falls Short
Social networking has so much to offer, but it’s important that recovering addicts use the Internet in a positive manner and choose to focus on the information and people that are conducive to their recovery, just as they have to do in everyday life. But, there is one element that social networking can’t provide, and that’s quality face-to-face interaction. It’s still important for addicts to receive this type of engagement. Addicts should continue to see their counselor or therapist and attend 12-step groups while using social networking tools as aids in their recovery.