In this age of information, it can be easier than ever to seek help and gather news on drug abuse. Unfortunately, it is also easier to find ways to feed an addiction, including buying drugs and supplies online. In this article, we will take a look at the ways that social media has helped in the fight against drug addiction, and in what ways it has hurt it.
It’s easier to get information.
For concerned friends and family, social media and the internet can be a virtual gold mine when it comes to learning about addiction and drug abuse, and how to deal with it. The internet contains a wealth of knowledge when it comes to learning about risks, signs, and symptoms of drug abuse, ways to help, and people or places to contact. There are many online users who use their personal social media accounts for educating people on the dangers of drug abuse, many times from personal experience. The government website, samhsa.gov is dedicated to providing information on substance abuse and uses Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in order to keep followers in contact and up to date. Other platforms, such as online forums, and chat rooms can make the search for a treatment center less daunting as well.
Unfortunately, social media can also be a great place to get information on where to obtain certain drugs, and even how to make them. One can easily order tools and chemicals online in order to manufacture some synthetics, like Fentanyl, and instructions are just a Google search away. In some online forums, people give their personal experience on what works well and what doesn’t, or how to buy or sell. There are many websites that allow someone to have drugs shipped right to them, with little fear of being caught. This aspect of social media can fuel someone’s addiction.
It’s easier to keep in touch.
For those struggling with recovery, being able to keep in touch via various social media platforms can mean that help and support is available almost instantly. People can have virtual meetings online with services like Google Hangout, and addicts can easily search out like-minded individuals to chat with through many of the online forums. Facebook users can create private groups where people can support each other and hold each other accountable. There are also many articles and even entire websites solely dedicated to helping people attain and maintain sobriety, which can be an enormous help. For example, the site myrecovery.com is a social networking community where users can support each other, chat, and easily find help in maintaining sobriety. With the advances in social media, we can keep in touch with people around the world, at any time, using a number of different devices. Gone are the days of being tied to a desktop, waiting for the internet to slowly connect.
On the other side of this coin, keeping in touch instantly can be a hindrance. It’s easier for someone to find others that can help aid in obtaining or even selling drugs or alcohol. This is especially true for teenagers. According to a survey done by Columbia University in 2011, teenagers that use social media are five times more likely to use tobacco, and three times more likely to drink alcohol. There are even reports of teens using Snap Chat and Instagram in order to sell drugs. Instant communication can also mean that there is more peer pressure to use drugs. For a drug abuser that has made the decision to get help, it’s sometimes best to drop all communication with those who are not supportive of that decision. Social media makes it easy for people to find each other and communicate instantly, and also voice their opinions, wanted or not. There are steps, however, that one can take to reduce the online “noise”, such as unfollowing or unfriending people, and limiting the use of certain social media platforms.
Social media can glorify alcohol and drug abuse
More and more, people are posting pictures and videos of themselves engaging in various activities, including doing drugs and drinking alcohol. Certain celebrities are notorious for their usage of social media, and some, like rapper Whiz Khalifa, have been known to glorify using marijuana and alcohol. For influential teens who want to be more like the musicians and actors they look up to, this can spell disaster. Studies have shown that teens who view videos and images of people using drugs or alcohol are more likely to use and abuse drugs themselves. This is why it is so imperative that parents monitor their child’s social media use, and stay up to date on the newest social media trends. A parent may check their child’s Facebook account or email, but might not even know about their Tumblr or Snap Chat account.
In the same way that social media can glorify drugs, it can also show the harsh reality. Teens and adults can easily view the effects of long-term drug abuse. More recently, some users on Facebook have been using the platform to share videos of people who have overdosed on drugs. In one video that went viral, a mother overdosed in the middle of a store while her young daughter urged her to wake up. While the person who shot the video was widely criticized for not stepping in and helping, many cited the value of showing the reality of drug addiction, not just the glamorous side often shown. It is important for teens especially, to see what the real cost of drugs and alcohol is.
While there are many ways in which social media can help in the fight against drug abuse, it is important to be aware of the dangers as well.
It is also important to remember, that although social media can be a help, it is in no way a replacement for proper treatment. If you or someone you know is abusing drugs or alcohol, please seek help immediately.
When someone we love is struggling with addiction and drug abuse, we would go to any lengths to try and help them. While the internet and social media could be great tools for both you and your suffering loved one, please be aware of the possible pitfalls as well.
If you or someone you love is in need of treatment, Clearbrook can help. For more than 40 years, we have been treating both the alcoholic and chemically dependent person. If you are interested in what we have to offer, please contact our Admissions Specialists today and begin your journey of recovery.