The revolution in social media has changed the face the world in a multitude of ways and platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat can be rallying forces for social change. However, despite all of the wonderful benefits of social media, the trend also has some warning signs attached, especially for teenagers. For a teen in drug recovery, social media can be a minefield of potential relapse triggers and negative social reinforcement.
There are four primary concerns regarding social media that parents should keep in mind if a recovering teen is in the picture;
1 – Overvaluing the Opinions of Others
When the primary currency in the social media universe is followers, fans, likes, and favorites, there is a tendency for any of us to place a disproportionate value on the opinions of others. This can be a dangerous gamble in recovery. Peer pressure is already a factor in relapse so caring too much about what others think of you can be damaging to one’s self esteem and resolve in the face of relapse temptation and can also hinder psychological growth and recovery in a phase when learning to love yourself again is paramount. Teens should be guided to find self worth in more meaningful and sustainable places.
2 – Social Media is Addictive
It’s clear to most of us who have a smartphone or know a teenager that social media and the prevalence of this technology is addictive in its own right. There are plenty of similarities in the nature of addiction when a “quick fix” of the social stream or a friend’s drama is all we need to get through the next 5 minutes. In recovery, a teen should be learning to deal with compulsive cravings in a healthy way and replacing one addiction with another is not usually the best way. Learning to ignore the compulsions associated with social media will help during the recovery process by replacing the craving with something healthier and more grounded in the real world.
3 – An Unbalanced Lifestyle
So much of what your teen is learning in recovery is how to balance needs, wants, and desires. It’s all too common for him/her to spend too much time on social media at the expense of other important aspects of life, including relationship investments, job responsibilities, school work, exercise, and other basic lifestyle requirements. Sound familiar? An unbalanced approach to social technology is akin to an out of control drug addiction and should be tempered with lessons on time management and concentration.
4 – Peer Influence
The Web gives teens ongoing access to their peer group, all of whom are a swipe or tap away. Exposure to peer substance abuse is a common trigger of relapse for recovering addicts and social media channels tend to portray peer substance use in a greater degree than is actually the case. Remember that your teen’s smartphone is his/her window to a much larger world, which is of great benefit and also great risk. Spend time engaging with your teenager one-on-one to know what their social media experience is like and who they interact with via the web. Peer influences are critically important during drug recovery.
There’s no eliminating social media or smartphone technology from the world and we all have to be savvy enough to navigate this new space, but during recovery it’s important to be conscious of the triggers and risk factors that are out there. Clear communication and a healthy balance are key.
For guidance and resource information regarding teen drug addiction and recovery, contact the staff at Treatment Now today.
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