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Sobriety and Social Media

If you are in recovery, you might want to consider taking a break from social media. People typically consider Facebook and Twitter harmless, but they may have hidden downsides, especially for anyone with a history of addiction. Here’s why.

Social media is intentionally addictive.

Facebook doesn’t make any money when you show your friends a picture of your kid on her first day of school. They make money from companies advertising back-to-school clothes in your Facebook feed. Therefore, they want you to spend as much time as possible scrolling down, which is why Facebook and every other social media platform makes their product as addictive as possible.

They do this in a variety of ways. The most potent way is by using intermittent rewards, which is the same thing that makes gambling so addictive. Basically, they only show you something you really like every once in awhile. They know you don’t care about that picture of your friend’s lunch or your cousin’s slightly embarrassing overshare. They show you that boring stuff so that when they show you something you actually do care about, you get an extra big dopamine hit.

That intermittent reward is what keeps you scrolling when you have better things to do. It’s also why recovering addicts should be particularly wary of social media. Addiction transfer is common, especially early in recovery. If social media becomes your new addiction, you may find yourself wasting a lot of valuable time, then wondering where your days went.

Social media is depressing.

There are three primary ways social media can wreck your mood. The fist is the malaise and dissatisfaction caused by the addictive behavior described above. You find yourself scrolling through a lot of stuff you don’t care about and you ask why you’re still doing it, but you keep doing it anyway. You get agitated, anxious, and bored, which are all relapse triggers.

Another way social media depresses you is by showing you news all the time. Even if you don’t follow any news sources, friends and family will share stories and blog posts about how the other political party is coming to burn your house down and eat your children. People rarely share stories about everything that’s going great in the world and reporters rarely write them.

Finally, your friends mostly share good things about their lives and rarely mention the bad stuff. They share pictures of their fancy dinners, their vacations, and their new cars, meanwhile you have a headache and your coffee is cold. You end up comparing your own real life to a curated version of theirs. It isn’t that big of a deal when you look at pictures of William and Kate, or whomever, on vacation, because they’re in another world. But when your friends seem like they have a better life than you do–even if it’s probably not true–you feel like a loser.

Just as you can consume unhealthy food, you can consume unhealthy media. Be careful what you put in your brain and don’t assume drugs and alcohol are the only things you can become addicted to. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.