24 Healing Options for any Illness

Social Networking

More people are using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms than ever before, and this technology has become part of daily life for many people around the world. When used properly, social media can also play a big part in the recovery process. This is especially true for those who do not have many other places to turn to.

Not all addicts have healthy, supportive environments where they can be surrounded by friends and family during their recovery, and not all communities offer formal treatment programs or support groups. The internet, and especially social media, provide recovering addicts like these - as well as those who do have access to a wider range of resources - a way to connect with others and feel less isolated.

Social media gives recovering addicts a network of people who they can reach out to, and provides a great platform for sharing tips, stories, and advice. This support is available anytime, anywhere, and thus can be called upon whenever a patient feels that he or she needs it most. Many also find it empowering, giving them a chance to share their stories and help one another.

There are a wide range of options and online communities available for recovering addicts. Online support groups can be a great source of continued guidance and support after you've finished a more formal treatment process. Many rehab programs and clinics have strong social media presences where they post stories and resources to help out people in all stages of recovery. There are also specialized apps, forums, and discussion boards where recovering addicts can come together and share their experiences. Even if you don't feel up to participating in a group like this yourself, following someone who is in a recovery group can serve as an inspiration and motivate you to stay on track yourself.

Social media is free and easy to use, but should not be a replacement for face-to-face interactions. Those who have access to them should continue to see counselors and support groups, but connect with people through social media between meetings and whenever they feel that they need immediate help or support.

There are some downsides to social media that are worth noting. Social media use can become an addiction itself, so take care and be ready to step back a bit if you find yourself becoming too engrossed in the online community. As with all online conversations, it is also important to take the advice you are given with a grain of salt, as there is no guarantee that the people you are talking to are as informed or reliable as they claim to be. Exercise caution, and when in doubt, talk to a counselor or other professional about something before you act on it.

Scientific Studies:

A study published in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol in 2002 looked at the effect of support networks on those with drinking problems. Data from 952 outpatients was analyzed, and the researchers found that patients who had larger networks and those who had more abstainers or recovering alcoholics in their networks had a better average prognosis than those who did not.

Another 2002 study also looked at outpatient substance abusers, investigating the effects of high functional support versus low functional support. Specifically, they looked at the impact that support had on risk factors and how long patients remained in treatment, as well as testing the stress-buffering role of support on treatment outcomes. The researchers had patients complete questionnaires about social support, stress levels, and psychological functioning at the beginning of the study and during a six-month follow-up, as well as assessing how many times the patients had been admitted to outpatient treatment programs. They found that patients who had more social support from the beginning stayed in treatment longer and drank less alcohol than those with poorer support. However, there was no notable effect of support on drug use.

A 2015 study from China investigated the use of group discussions and reminders on WhatsApp and Facebook and their effectiveness in preventing relapse in people who had recently quit smoking. Participants had gone at least seven days without smoking a cigarette and were randomly assigned to one of three groups: WhatsApp (42 participants), Facebook (40 participants), or a control group that did not use social media (54 participants). The social media groups participated in online discussions moderated by a trained counselor for two months. All participants received a self-help booklet on quitting. Researchers found that compared to the control group, people on WhatsApp relapsed significantly less frequently in two- and six-month follow-ups. The Facebook group also showed favorable results, but not as strongly as the WhatsApp group. This may have been related to the fact that there were fewer posts on Facebook than there were on WhatsApp.

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