The rise of the internet, particularly through avenues such as social media, has helped spread the message of hope and of recovery from addiction.
As the world wide web has widened, a network of people in all stages of recovery willing to be open about their experiences online has also burgeoned, extending hope, support and information to other addicts and their loved ones and also reducing the stigma that has plagued those with substance use disorders for so long.
On the web, there is now a proliferation of blogs about addiction recovery, from simply-written WordPress accounts to series of sophisticated vlogs – on YouTube or other video platforms. Through these, addicts and those recovering from addiction can discuss their experiences, their personal journeys, offer tips and advice on recovery, and support their followers to get or stay sober.
Although outing celebrities on the internet for entering rehab is not appropriate, some stars have voluntarily spoken out online about their experiences with rehabilitation and recovery.
Actors Matthew Perry and Robert Downey Jr. and actresses Kristin Johnston and Carrie Fisher are only a few examples of celebrities who have given honest online interviews about their addictions. These real-life stories of hope can show others that addiction can happen to anyone – and so can recovery.
The ‘Faces of Meth’ was a project started by Deputy Corrections Officer Bret King at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon. He essentially assembled adjacent mug shots of people with verified histories of methamphetamine use, effectively showing a photographic timeline of their declines over the years. Although Deputy King’s plan was to interview these people and reveal what they would tell young people about methamphetamine, the campaign went viral on the internet, showing millions of people all over the world the stark message of what life looks like before and after drug use.
There are numerous recovery support groups on the social media platform Facebook, where addicts can ask questions and people with long-term sobriety can encourage others to seek help. Many people in recovery share and celebrate their “recovery birthdays” openly online, giving hope to those who are on the same journey. The very fact that people are proud to be blogging and posting about their recovery and celebrating their sobriety automatically helps to counteract the stigma.
There are now various support groups for both recovering addicts, which can be accessed from practically anywhere in the world via the video chatting service Skype. They cater for people of all faiths and ways of life and can offer real support for your recovery with approaches from addiction discussion to meditation.
Addicts on Facebook and Twitter often connect with recovery buddies who promise to help support each other to stay sober by daily messaging. This is even more common in recovery forums, where participants are more likely to have formed close relationships.
There are many forums dedicated to recovery, but several are themed, so it is worth checking if a particular forum fits your personal history, recovery journey and goals.
For those not yet confident enough to form a recovery buddy relationship, there are Pinterest accounts with motivational quotations and messages of hope dedicated to spur on those in recovery from all sorts of addictions and mental health conditions.
Thanks to the web, there is now more accessible education about addiction than ever before. Academics, addicts and their loved ones have much better access to education of all kinds. They can not only read articles written by professionals, but they can also often directly ask addiction professionals questions online.
For example, many professionals, including rehabilitation professionals, who have signed up to the question-and-answer website Quora aim to give accurate and helpful information to addicts who wish to recover or to their families. Having access to these answers can offer real help to many loved ones who may struggle to know what to do about an addicted loved one.
As recovering addicts reveal themselves over the internet, both those with substance use disorders and the general public begin to see the real face of recovery: normal men and women who have a medical disease. They also realize that these people are, more often than not, trying to get better.
By dispelling the myths about addiction, this could lead to a society that’s more amenable to helping addicts recover, rather than criticizing them. People may be more willing to volunteer at rehabilitation centers, 12-Step groups or community programs in order to help.
Previously, addicts may have only been aware of a handful of rehabilitation centers. The internet allows rehabilitation centers to show and explain what they offer – and why they may be a better fit for a client than a local center. The web offers more listings and information, so those who want to seek help for themselves or a loved one can find the perfect fit.