Social media is in everyone’s hands now, it seems. Anywhere people go they are hyper-connected to their smartphones where they can see what other people around the world are saying, doing, and engage with it at a moment’s notice. Research is just now beginning to catch up with how people’s behavior around social media can be looked at in terms of how and why people become addicted. When a person already struggles with addictive behavior, whether or not they are in recovery, there is always a risk of crossover addiction to something else. Learn more about why social media can be so powerful and how to keep it in check for a healthier recovery.
Utilization of social media gives people a sensory response as if they are interacting with people right now, right this minute, and need more updates all the time. Heavy users of social media can spend hours tracking friends, family, and strangers who post online or read content from around the globe. The feelings they get reading through and scrolling are not unlike those tapped into for addiction in the brain. The more exposure a person has, the more they crave. People may even make riskier decisions to engage with others in a different way once they use the internet. People who lean towards addictive behaviors and mindsets may be in recovery but their brain and body can still be triggered to want to use drugs and alcohol, or some other mechanism, to get the same feeling.
The way a person knows if social media has become a crossover addiction is to look at their usage. If they are in recovery from addiction and begin to notice their time online has increased, they may be struggling with crossover addiction. One big sign is when a person tries to stop using social media and finds they cannot stop, even after deleting apps, etc. Once the pull is too strong to go back to using it, that is a sign of crossover addiction. To release the power of social media in a person’s life, it can be helpful to try:
- Specific time limits: don’t spend more than necessary online checking and be mindful of checking constantly over the course of a day to see what people have posted, even though it has only been an hour since last check-in
- Download an app: use an app to keep accountability for how often and how long visits to social media are
- Find other hobbies to do when wanting to get online. Look into planning a sober vacation, find a new group to connect with, start a blog, or develop a personal development routine and create space for other things to grow
Social media can quickly take over people’s lives and derail recovery. It can be a useful tool but also a crossover addiction for people who already struggle with addiction. In order to feel more healthy in recovery, it is helpful to find ways of navigating it that will support a healthy outlook on life, even if it means logging off for a period of time.
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