Social Media: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Your Recovery
When it comes to addiction recovery, some people feel like you have to approach it like a frightened cat- skittish and hypervigilant of lurking triggers and sudden urges. That’s just no way to live your life. While, yes, sobriety has to remain a top priority, living a sober life doesn’t mean you have to stop living.
A large part of living today happens on the internet- via social media, forums, online gaming, and other channels. While there are certainly downsides to the internet, I still believe the advantages far surpass them- if used properly. Just like navigating the real world, your life on social media requires a few adjustments too when it comes to sobriety.
Don’t be afraid to log into your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or SnapChat because of your new, healthy lifestyle- here’s 10 do’s and don’ts of using social media for your recovery.
#1. DO: Remove Negativity from Your Social Media Accounts
Do a cleanse of your social media accounts and purge all the negativity for a fresh new start. That means cleaning your friends list of people who are promoting substance abuse, removing those status posts and tweets from when you were drunk or high, and deleting the pictures of your former self. If you want to keep those things as a reminder of where you’ve come from, that’s fine- but in your new life, you don’t need to carry that baggage with you.
#2: DON’T: Contact People Who Keep You in Your Past
Just as you must sever ties with people in your real life that may threaten your recovery, that need extends to your online life. Beyond breaking all ties with people whose only interest in you is as a paying customer or a partner in abuse, be mindful of those who are not supportive of your sober life. The naysayers, the doubters, and all the others negative nancies in your life- as much as it may be tempting to show them that you’ve made progress, don’t.
#3: DO: Subscribe/Follow Accounts Dedicated to Recovery
Blogs, groups, pages, and other social media channels dedicated to the recovery process are great sources of inspiration, educational information, and community. The journey of sobriety doesn’t have to be a lonely process- coming together with people on the same path as you can help you stay focused while learning something along the way.
#4: DON’T: Hold On to Negative Memories
There’s something I heard recently and it struck me as especially poignant:
“Guilt is what I did was bad; shame is what I did means I’m bad.” There is no reason to carry shame with you on your journey of recovery; we all have things in our past we regret. Learning to let go of that guilt and shame means erasing it from your present, including what traces of it may still lurk on your social media pages. Giving yourself that clean slate isn’t cheating or denying your past- it’s simply refusing to live there anymore.
#5: DO: Chronicle Life’s Little Positive Moments
Sometimes when we’re at a low point it seems nothing in life has ever gone right. We become so consumed within the dark times we forget that it is not a permanent state. Take the time to give the happy moments the same attention you give the not-so-great ones. Commit to posting one positive thing on your social media each day and you’ll be forced to change your perspective on how bad things really are. An added bonus is that most social media sites now have optional features which allow you look back on your posts years back to relive those pleasant times and all the things you’ve overcome.
#6: DON’T: Wallow in the Dark Times
No one likes seeing a bunch of gloomy, depressing things all over their social media account. While it is fine to express your pain and recognize that everything isn’t sunshine and daisies, wallowing in those feelings on social media unnecessarily extends your healing process. If you need to get it off your chest via social media, why not send a personal message to a member of your support team or your sponsor? It may be easier to get your thoughts clear and out in a constructive way.
#7: DO: Repost Things That Encourage You
Blog sites like Tumblr are great for this: follow pages and other accounts that are not only focused on addiction recovery but mental wellness and encouragement in general helps to shorten those dark times, too. Not only will it help to keep you in the right mind, but you may be providing encouragement to someone else and never know it.
#8: DON’T: Feed the Internet Trolls
The internet is an anonymous forum in which some people elect to say all sorts of crazy foolishness solely because they can. They lay out little traps, waiting for someone to take the bait so they can drag them down to their depths. You don’t have to fall into those traps; you don’t have to feed the internet trolls. Steering clear of those pointless arguments and debates keeps undue stress and aggravation out of your life- there’s a block button on every social media platform for a reason.
#9: DO: Join Addiction Recovery Groups
Sure, you’re following a few pages and reposting encouraging posts, but why not become an active member of addiction recovery groups on social media? Being able to speak with like minded people who are further in their recovery gives you an insight you couldn’t get any other way. And as you get further down your path of addiction recovery, you can be a voice of reason and a role model in your own right.
#10: DON’T: Participate in Toxic Communities
That being said, if a community or situation online is becoming toxic or harmful, it’s time to excuse yourself. Nothing online or in real life should put you in a situation where your sobriety will be compromised. If that means you need to take a break from social media so be it- we all probably should once in awhile.
What other do’s and don’ts of using social media can you think of? Leave them in the comments below!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.