Many young people who go through addiction treatment and recovery may face the temptation of social media overuse. When a young person quits using drugs or alcohol, they often have plenty of time to kill. To prevent boredom or social isolation, they may begin to spend more time on social media. Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries around social media use is important for mental health.
Mental Health Risks of Social Media Over-Consumption
Researchers have found that over-reliance on online social networks not only impoverishes young people of real-life social skills, it also creates long-term mental health risks, such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal attempts.
Excessive use of social media may lead to maladaptive cognitive skills, behavioral patterns, and internal thought lives. Although virtual communities have certain codes for conduct, bullying behaviors and virtual violence still occur with high frequency. These may result in lowering young people’s self-esteem, a risk factor for substance addiction.
When social media overconsumption becomes an addictive behavior in itself, it manifests symptoms similar to substance-related addiction, including mood swings, tolerance, withdrawal, and relapse. Young girls may become more likely to develop eating disorders due to over-exposure to the pressure of achieving a perfect body image through social media platforms.
Social Media Platforms Are Designed to Nurture Addictive Behaviors
The rule of algorithms is a major factor in nurturing addictive behaviors among young people. Social media platforms can curate feeds that take advantage of individuals’ lack of self-control and compulsive tendencies. Without limiting the time you spend on social media, viewers can find themselves swimming in information, posts, and ads that match their preferences but don’t necessarily promote health.
Social media platforms are designed to keep people checking and scrolling through content to make sure they feel like they’re not “missing out” on important events or trends. This design can easily hook people into behavioral addictions characterized by an uncontrollable urge to check their feeds. Devoting too much time to social media also impairs real-life social relationships.
Brain Science Proves Social Media Addiction
Social media overuse has negative effects on the brain. When people take pleasure in creating and viewing content on social media, this starts the same pleasure-generating process as when they partake in an addictive substance. The reward system and neurological pathways in the brain are hijacked by this behavioral addiction.
For example, when a person receives a like or mention, the brain gets a rush of dopamine, causing pleasurable feelings. Since social media platforms are designed to offer endless and immediate responses and attention, the brain may be rewired through this positive enforcement. As a result, people desire likes, views, and retweets. When they do not get these, mental health disorders can come as a result.
A Sober but Unsafe Way to Kill Time
Filling spare time during recovery may be a challenge for many recovering individuals. Being idle is not healthy because it creates boredom, a risk factor for relapse. Without building a healthy regimen to fill this now excess time, social media may become the least costly way to kill time.
However, like many things in the early stages of sobriety, doing things in moderation is key. Those in recovery should watch out for food addiction, sugar addiction, and even exercise addiction, not to mention social media addiction. Building healthy boundaries in life also has to do with how people use time in a self-disciplinary way. Below are a few self-assessment questions:
- Do you feel the urge to check and use social media frequently?
- Do you become restless if you are unable to use social media?
- Have you tried to reduce social media use without success?
The Benefits of Digital Detox or Screen Time Boundaries
Like physical detox, social media detox can significantly reduce the time individuals spend using electronic devices including smartphones and computers. There are many ways to do it. For example, individuals can turn off sound notifications, allocate a fixed time to check social media sites during the day, and reserve screen-free time during family meals or important conversations.
Switching off smartphones in the evening can also reduce information overload which can contribute to sleep deprivation for many people. For those in residential treatment, it is recommended that they switch off electronic devices most of the day to rebuild a healthy regimen with other activities.
Do not let the harmful effects of social media overuse stall or ruin recovery progress. Behavioral addictions like social media overuse can hijack the healing of the brain. This aspect cannot be neglected. Consider recovery as a precious time to rebuild your social life, including connecting with family and friends deeply and authentically.
If you or a loved one is addicted to social media while in recovery, experts at Laguna Shores Recovery can recommend professional treatment, including therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy to help you become less reliant on it as you recover. Don’t let anything, including social media, sabotage your progress. If you are looking for a great program to help you overcome non-substance addiction during recovery, try Laguna Shores Recovery. Here, you will experience the benefits of high-quality holistic addiction treatment. We strive to provide customized programs to ensure the best treatment for you. We offer plans that include detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and relationship skills coaching, all of which can greatly enhance your experience on the road to long-term sustainable recovery. Schedule an appointment with a licensed mental healthcare professional or therapist at Laguna Shores Recovery today by calling us at (866) 906-3203.