Social media, love it or hate it, it is here to stay in some form or another. From the fledgling days of Myspace to the behemoth that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become, it’s clear that social media has been singularly one of the most defining aspects of the late 2000s, all of the 2010s, and continues to be today. It is not our place to be cultural critics at Southeast Addiction, but when the culture so intimately ties into addiction treatment, it is something worth discussing. We are, of course, referring to how social media and technology as a whole today is a major contributing factor to addiction and mental health issues.
Social Media: Friend or Foe?
By the name, you would think that social media is just that. A way to keep in touch with people have discussions online, post funny cat pictures and all it a day. Unfortunately, these innocent ambitions have grown to become a place that perpetuates a warped reality and has largely become a machine to politicize topics and to foster negative mindstates. Think we’re being dramatic? Think again.
Teen suicide rates have sharply increased in the past decade, and it is well known that the teens of today are the most keyed into social media platforms and the internet’s social spheres. The linked study was published in 2012, arguably a time when the awareness and momentum of social media had yet to even reach the levels that it has in 2020. A more recent publication by the CDC confirms these fears by demonstrating an increase of suicide by 56% between 2007 and 2016 in the 10-19 age group. It’s also important to note that teens are not the only demographic that has been affected by this sharp rise in mental illness which is partly attributed to social media.
So why is social media contributing to these issues? Understanding this question for us is part of the key to offering the best possible addiction treatment and addiction counseling at Southeast Addiction.
FOMO, False Expectations, and Addiction
You might be wondering how this all ties into addiction. If you have any experience with addiction or have seen a loved one suffer from a Substance Use Disorder, then you know that it is almost always in response to some unresolved trauma, stress, or emotional pain that is fueling the maladaptive coping mechanism of substance use.
Addiction is often comorbid with mental illnesses such as depressive episodes, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and various other mental illnesses
We want to make a clear disclaimer that we do not believe social media is all bad, but rather today we are focusing on the negative to illuminate how the negative aspects of social media can contribute to addiction. There are many aspects to social media that are positive such as fostering change, bringing communities together, and keeping families and friends in touch across the world.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter largely create a false version of reality in which opinions and statements are divorced from real life consequences and people’s online personas are just an idealized version of a life they may not be living at all.
Cue the Instagram model taking photoshopped vacation photos in a tropical paradise every weekend with inspirational captions and other such things. Twitter is rife with many controversial opinions, arguments, and negativity. On a daily basis, your mind is bombarded with more unrealistic imagery of female (and male) beauty standards as well as negative and virulent statements that can clutter your mind and drain your mental stamina. If statements online on social media are not negative, they can be downright misleading or falsely positive.
Those who are suffering from addiction have a tendency to self-isolate, those who do self isolate also tend to spend a lot of their time online on social media platforms or other digital platforms as a way to occupy themselves or distract from the pain.
It is there, separated from the real world and submerged in the online world do people succumb to the worst aspects of social media. Seeing many profiles of people, friends, acquaintances, or even strangers putting their best faces on, showcasing the best parts of their lives, does one begin to feel that something is wrong with them. That they have failed and that their life is not nearly as good as everyone else’s. This is constant comparison only serves to reduce a person’s sense of self-worth and contentment in life, and subsequently, this is the trigger that causes many people to turn to substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope with that feeling.
Addiction Treatment Atlanta GA
At Southeast Addiction, we understand that addiction has many root causes. Today, we discussed one of those: social media. Do we think social media alone drives people to addiction? Not necessarily, but it is a stressor of its own, one that we as people are not accustomed to dealing with as it is an entirely new phenomenon.
Substance use disorders claim money lives every year, and what they do not claim they lay waste to. When a member of the community becomes sick with addiction, everyone in that community suffers—whether they realize it or not. At Southeast Addiction, our top priority is helping those who are suffering from addiction and various addiction-related disorders.
If you or a loved one is suffering from substance addiction, contact us today!