Tag Archives: social media

Recovery Impacted by Smartphones


Young men and women in recovery must exercise caution when it comes to distractions. It’s paramount that those who begin a program of recovery stay focused if they are going to stay the course; there is a lot to take in, so it is vital that people do what they can to avoid any activity that can stand in the way of their goals. In the age of technology that we live in you can probably see that it’s not that easy to shield oneself from our smartphones constant interruptions. Let’s be honest; cell phones are always vying for our attention via push notifications from people social media apps.

All of us have an internal desire to connect with our peers, even those people who do not live close to us. Our smartphones allow us the opportunity to keep track of the lives of others, and they give us feedback about how peers receive our posts. Naturally, in small doses the behaviors associated with pocket devices can be healthy, social networks are a good thing after all. It’s when a person's digital social network comprises connection with their peers in the “real world” that problems can develop.

Smartphones haven’t been around long, which means scientists do not yet fully grasp the implications of substantial screen time. Common sense dictates that whenever someone prioritizes digital social networking over in-person relationships, it’s bound to lead to some issues. The rub is determining the problems that can stem from scrolling through timelines for hours instead of making a concerted effort to communicate with people outside of broadband?

Connection Strengthens Your Recovery

The topic of smartphones, as they pertain to recovery, is perhaps more important than you’d think. If you consider that working a program requires being part of a fellowship or support network of some kind, anything that can distract from forming strong bonds with your peers should be contained. If you have been in the program for even a brief time, then you know that progress depends on working with others toward shared goals. Meetings, working with a sponsor or mentor and socializing with your friends after the meeting are critical components to achieving your objectives.

When in the grips of active addiction socialization isn’t exactly a priority for most people. Everything a person does is in service to their disease, maintaining an insatiable illness is hard work and doesn’t afford many opportunities for establishing meaningful bonds with others. Conversely, recovery is a complete 180; isolation can no longer prevail, those bent on improvement must foster relationships with other humans. While social media can aid a person’s program on certain, extra specific occasions, by and large, human interaction should take precedence.

Smartphones, in a sense, are a hard nut to crack. There are times when not having one would make life incredibly trying, i.e., getting directions, keeping track of schedules, and calling your sponsor. When you think about it, isn’t it ironic how smartphones connect you with everyone in the world, wide web; and yet they serve to cut you off from people in the real world? They serve as tools that allow people to be über social but isolate you from your peers.

Hyper-Socializing is Problematic

There is an ever-growing concern that smartphones are habit-forming. The range of applications available allows people to spend hours upon hours on their phone each day. When you see people staring at their cellphone consistently, you might be inclined to think that they are isolating or are antisocial. However, one researcher argues that heavy smartphone users who continuously monitor their social media are hypersocial, Science Daily reports. Professor Samuel Veissière, a cognitive anthropologist from the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, says that we have an evolutionary predisposition to both observe and be observed by our peers. The findings of the research appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Professor Veissière’s work indicates that hyper-connectivity can result in the brain's reward system going into “overdrive,” according to the article. As a result of massive social media interaction on a regular basis, addictions can develop. Smartphone addiction may not lead people down the same dark roads as drugs and alcohol, but they can disrupt people’s lives and cause serious problems. The good news is that there are safeguards on your phone that can mitigate the risk of your phone butting in when you are focusing on something more critical, like recovery.

...the pro-social needs and rewards [of smartphone use as a means to connect] can similarly be hijacked to produce a manic theatre of hyper-social monitoring," the authors write in their paper.”

If you have made a habit of checking your phone throughout the course meetings, try turning off your phone or disabling notifications. If you are on your phone a lot when in the company of others, put your phone on a silent mode and engage with your friends. Little efforts can pay off in big ways down the road, if recovery is your priority—it must be prioritized.


If you are a young man who is ready to break the cycle of addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center for a free consultation. We specialize in treating young adult males living with alcohol, substance use, and coöccurring disorders.

Anonymity, Depression and Instagram


When it comes to addiction recovery, one of the more appealing aspects of the 12-Step program is the focus by members on anonymity: the condition of (of a person) not being identified by name. Those who turn to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for support and guidance, are encouraged to introduce themselves by their first name only. If there are more than one person with the same first name, sometimes the first letter of one’s last name will be attached to the end (i.e. John T. or Amanda S.) to avoid confusion when referring to people.

Some of you may be wondering, ‘what’s with all the secrecy?’ A question that can be answered in multiple ways, all of which are good reasons for not disclosing one’s full identity. But, perhaps, the most important reason for avoiding self-disclosure among members is the newcomer. People who suffer from any form for mental illness, whether it be addiction or depression, have long been given pejorative labels and looked down upon by society. While we have come a long way in the United States regarding ending the stigma of mental health disorders, there are still those who would use another's issues as ammunition.

Those who make the brave decision to seek help for alcoholism and/or drug abuse, need to be and feel like they are they are in an environment that will not cast judgement. That the things that they share will not be used against them at a later day by another. Even if you have zero-experience with substance abuse, you could probably imagine that a big part of the healing and the recovery process rests on honestly sharing aspects of one’s past that are extremely difficult to talk about (e.g. where they have been, what they have seen and the unsavory things they did while out there in active addiction). When it comes to the latter, there is hardly an addict or alcoholic who has not broken one or multiple laws.

As was mentioned earlier, honesty is vital to the recovery process. If a newcomer does not feel like he or she can share their life candidly without repercussions, it is unlikely that they will share at all. Or stick around long enough to experience the miracles of recovery. In a world where social stigma can destroy lives, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. While individuals are free to share their story and full name with whomever they please, they are expressly prohibited from sharing that of others. To ensure that people do not disclose information about others, the safeguard of not using one's full name is staunchly encouraged. Under the model of 12-Step recovery, there are in fact 12 steps that need to be worked, but there are also 12 traditions that members are asked to respect, the twelfth tradition reads as follows:

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

Anonymity In The Information Age

When the founders of the 12-Step modality wrestled with anonymity, it was at a time when the average person did not have the ability to reach millions of people. Your typical American could not share their story or the stories of others by way of press, radio, and films. Those that did were strongly encouraged to exercise extreme caution, lest they break another person's anonymity.

In the 21st Century, the outlets for expressing oneself in seemingly cathartic ways has reached new heights, i.e. blogs, Facebook and Instagram. There is hardly a young person in America who does not have a social media account. What’s more, most young people in recovery spend a good amount of time on the internet.

Our laptops and smartphones allow us to reach total strangers, who cannot easily figure out who is the one doing the sharing. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Sharing one’s struggles on social media platforms can result in one receiving support for their issues, but given that we are talking about the internet, a hotbed for vitriolic unmasking—such platforms can tempt people to disclose things that they wouldn’t likely disclose with others in person. Thus, inadvertently revealing the identity of others.

If you rely on social media sites for therapeutic reasons, sharing your struggles with the hope of feedback, be sure to keep what is said be about you. You are responsible for your own anonymity, be sure that what you share will not have the unintended effect of coming back to hurt you later. For more information on sharing with others while remaining anonymous, please click here.

Support from Social Media

A significant number of young men and women battling with mental illness have turned to Instagram for support. Unlike Facebook, Instagram allows its users to maintain a greater level of secrecy. This has a twofold effect: 1) People can share what they are going through anonymously (e.g. a relapse or a depressive episode) and get feedback that might help. 2) Masked user activity allows people to negatively comment on what people share, what is known as “trolling,” a behavior that has led suffering people to suffer more.

The general public often hears of horror stories involving trolls, mental illness and suicide. We hear less about people with specific disorders finding support and help by way of social media. A new study sought to shed light on the power of anonymous social media posting, and the feedback users received. The researchers found that the majority of responses on Instagram to posts about mental illness using the hashtag “#depression,” were actually positive and supportive, Vocativ reports. The findings will be presented at the Association For Computing Machinery conference.

There’s this kind of double-edged sword about being anonymous and not having to use your real name,” said Nazanin Andalibi, one of the study’s lead doctoral researchers. “The popular narrative around anonymity has been that people will troll each other and everything will just be really abusive…but opportunities for anonymity are really central to disclosing things that are sensitive for some people and to give and provide support. It just so happens that in this particular platform people are finding each other and being supportive of each other.”

The researchers point out that further study is needed to see what users do with the positive feedback they received. Does it lead to positive change?

Depression: Let’s Talk

Last Friday, was World Health Day. The focus of discussion was depression, a mental health disorder affecting more than 300 million people around the world. The World Health Organization(WHO) launched a yearlong campaign. “Depression: Let’s Talk” aims to empower people to talk about their condition with people they trust, so they can get the help they require. With respect to the aforementioned study, not only do people with depression get positive feedback, but Instagram allows posts that appear to be cries for help to be flagged. When that happens the users, who may be at risk will be sent messages that include resources for help with mental illness. Talking about despair, can lead to hope treatment and recovery.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work with young adult men, targeting the underlying issues that contribute to addictive behaviors and behavioral health diagnoses. The PACE Recovery Center team provides multidisciplinary treatment for co-occurring disorders, including depression. Contact us for more information, “Let’s Talk!”.