News, information, and entertainment travel quickly today. In decades past, one had to wait to turn on the nightly news or for the local paper to publish their weekend edition to learn about the goings-on both locally and worldwide. The internet and social media have changed that. Today, things are available to view, download and forward on at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, this also means positive and negative information and insight travel with equal swiftness and can significantly impact everyone they touch.
What Are the Popular Forms of Social Media?
Before considering the connection between social media and drug use, it is important to understand what social media is. Social media is often loosely defined as a series of smartphone apps that can easily communicate with friends and family. Further simplified, social media consists of various social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Social media is an internet-based technology that helps to facilitate the sharing and exchange of ideas, thoughts, and information across virtual networks and communities. Social media platforms provide users with an instant means of communication with those close by or those on the other side of the world.
Today, more than three billion people worldwide use common forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, among others. Data from the Pew Research Center indicates as many as ninety percent of people between ages nineteen and twenty-nine use at least one type of social media.
Is There a Connection Between Social Media and Drug Use?
Drug and alcohol misuse and abuse are not new problems in the United States. Each year, over twenty-one million people meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder. Struggles with drug use have been a problem long before the advent of social media. However, social media outlets provide a new and concerning opportunity for people to be exposed to drugs in ways they may not have found before. Although people of all ages are vulnerable to the effects of what they see on social media, teens and adolescents are likely more susceptible due to the strength of peer pressure and peer influence. Common social media sites, including Facebook and Snapchat, offer up an easy to access environment where people are exposed to people engaging in behaviors involving drugs and alcohol or discussing the use of drugs and alcohol.
Unfortunately, consistent exposure to celebrities, friends, or family engaging in substance use inevitably influences those who view the content. The constant presence of drug and alcohol use on social media may normalize or glamorize the behavior making people who wouldn’t usually turn to drugs believe that it’s OK to experiment with illicit or prescription drugs, for example.
Information from a survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed that teenagers who regularly viewed popular social media sites were more likely to use drugs than adolescents who did not use social media. The same survey showed that this group of individuals was two times more likely to use marijuana than those who did not frequently utilize social media outlets.
For impressionable people on social media, seeking others on social media, partying and engaging in risky behaviors can lead them to turn to drugs or alcohol to “fit in.” Some studies indicate as many as 75% of young adults who see photos of others on social media sites smoking weed or using other substances encourage them to experiment in similar ways. Unfortunately, the same social media posts do not tend to encourage those struggling with addiction to seek addiction treatment to overcome drug addiction.
Reach Out to Us Today at Relevance Recovery
Social media outlets provide increased opportunities for people of all ages to be exposed to substance use. Either through photographs, chats, or open discussion, information about drug use and abuse is far more widely available today than ever before, leading to new or worsening struggles with addiction for many. If you would like to learn more about how Relevance Recovery can help you overcome an addiction to drugs, contact us today.