Social Media Addiction and Substance Abuse


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Far too often the focus of substance abuse treatment centers is on the specific substance that the individual is addicted to instead of the individual’s attitudes and personality traits that make him or her susceptible to addiction in the first place. It is often seen that those who reform from alcohol abuse are likely to transfer their addictions to new substances, meaning that alcohol by itself is not necessarily the problem but that the individual’s mental faculties may be more or less wired for addiction no matter the form.

Switching addictions from substance to substance is something that can be easily linked, but a study conducted in December 2014 by the University of Albany sought to trace multiple addictions in totally different aspects of life. Researchers were interested to see if there was any correlation between social media addiction and substance abuse.

A study shows that there may be a link between the two.

Before making any ground, social media addiction first has to be established as a true addiction. Although it is difficult to define what specificities make up social media addiction, psychologists at UA believe that it is a very real threat that is brought on by a lack of emotional regulation. "New notifications or the latest content on your newsfeed acts as a reward. Not being able to predict when new content is posted encourages us to check back frequently," said psychologist Julia Hormes in a statement.

According to researchers this lack of emotional regulation leaves individuals at risk for substance abuse as well as troubles with social media. To test their theory, researchers conducted interviews with 253 undergraduate students asking questions aimed at their Internet use, social media use, emotional regulation and alcohol intake. Of the 253 participants, 10 percent were found to suffer from social media addiction. Researchers also found that those who had social media addictions were more likely than “normal students” to suffer from substance abuse issues.

“Our findings suggest that disordered online social networking may arise as part of a cluster of risk factors that increase susceptibility to both substance and non-substance addictions,” Hormes said.

Studies that focus on the variable nature of addiction are important to new theories about how the individual is the piece that needs to change, not necessarily the substance. Whether the specific element is alcohol or even the Internet, the mental reactions are still the same leading to all sorts of problems in other areas of a person’s life.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for behavioral, alcohol or drug addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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