In today’s connected world, social media strongly influences how we connect with others. Especially during our teen years, social media enables the transition from relying on family to making friends of our own. How about the connection between drug use and social media, though? Read on to discover more about the relationship between social media and substance use.
Social Media and Drug Use
With nearly 5 billion people actively engaged in social media and limited signs of a mass exodus, social scientists find themselves exploring the irresistible appeal of social platforms and the psychological ramifications of digital excess.
We want to help
Many believe that social media use shares similarities with addiction, as these platforms are specifically developed to provide surges of dopamine — a chemical messenger in the brain associated with pleasure and reward — resulting in a repetitive cycle of use that can resemble substance abuse. Various features on socials stimulate the brain’s reward system – red notifications, likes, comments, and shares are all designed to be rewarding. Once these positive experiences are encountered, the brain develops a craving for them and seeks them out repeatedly, ultimately triggering behaviors that can become challenging to manage.
Social media not only mirrors substance use addiction but it also has the potential to influence it for several reasons. Firstly, social media is saturated with images and messages related to substance use. Many popular social media feeds are highly targeted, potentially delivering more content involving substance use, such as advertisements for alcohol brands or marijuana products.
Beyond this, social media fosters a cultural environment that frequently glorifies excessive substance consumption. Some accounts may celebrate binge drinking and partying or showcase content idolizing celebrities engaged in drug use. Social media, lacking robust content filters for such material, can be triggering for some individuals.
Additionally, due to its potential effects on mental health, social media can contribute to feelings of sadness, isolation, or insecurity. The distress induced by social media can prompt some people to use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. For some people, this can spiral into co-occurring mental health issues and substance use disorders.
The Influence of Social Media on Drug and Alcohol Use
While drug use and social media are interrelated, it does not mean that social media alone causes drug abuse. Rather, social media can function as a form of peer pressure and provides access to substances, increasing the likelihood of drug or alcohol abuse. This influence is especially pronounced among teens, who are highly susceptible to peer pressure and the allure of seeing their friends enjoying substances on social platforms.
Nevertheless, increased exposure to drug and alcohol abuse on social media can manifest negative repercussions in the real world. Some key ways in which social media may promote drug and alcohol abuse include:
- Glamorization: Social media platforms often showcase alluring images and videos of public figures and celebrities engaging in substance use, contributing to the glamorization of drug and alcohol abuse.
- Normalization: Viewing images of friends and family members using substances on social media may create a perception of drug and alcohol use as a more common and accepted behavior than it truly is, further normalizing these actions.
- Curated presentations: Social media enables people to present a carefully curated version of their lives, glorifying drug and alcohol use while concealing the adverse effects of these behaviors. Offline, the reality of substance abuse may differ significantly from these highlight reels.
- Online discussions: Social media provides a platform for open discussions about drug abuse, often more so than face-to-face conversations. The layer of separation offered by online interactions can encourage people to talk about their experiences with drugs and alcohol.
- Targeted advertising: Alcohol advertisers exploit social media for promotional purposes, targeting specific demographics and normalizing alcohol use. Unfortunately, this advertising seldom emphasizes responsible alcohol consumption and doesn’t highlight the associated risks.
While experts stress that offline exposure to drug and alcohol use has a more substantial impact on behavior, social media still plays a sizeable role in promoting negative behaviors like substance abuse.
Social Media Glamorizes Drug and Alcohol Use
Both everyday individuals and celebrities with large followings share their daily lives via online content. While some may use social media to highlight positive and healthy activities, others opt to share content that glorifies substance use. Celebrities like Drake or Wiz Khalifa with substantial online audiences can inadvertently glamorize drug and alcohol consumption when featuring these behaviors in their posts.
This glamorization becomes a concern, especially for impressionable youth who look up to these figures. The instantaneous reach of social media allows images and videos promoting substance use to disseminate rapidly, influencing the attitudes and behaviors of young people. Research shows a correlation between exposure to such content and an increased likelihood of engaging in substance use among teenagers.
The portrayal of substance use on social media tends to focus on the seemingly enjoyable aspects, such as party scenes or carefree moments, while neglecting the potential negative consequences like hangovers or DUIs. This skewed representation can create a false perception of the realities associated with drug and alcohol use, leading many people, especially teens, to perceive such behaviors as acceptable or even desirable.
Beyond this, the constant exposure to images of peers engaging in substance use can legitimize these behaviors. The impact of social media’s glamorization of drug and alcohol use extends beyond mere exposure, then, influencing people to view these behaviors as integral components of a vibrant and exciting lifestyle.
Resultantly, the glamorization of substance use on social media becomes a contributing factor to the broader issue of substance abuse. It not only shapes perceptions but also fuels the desire to emulate the behaviors of those who appear to lead exciting and carefree lives. This further emphasizes the need for awareness and responsible social media use, highlighting the potential consequences of glamorizing activities that can have detrimental effects on health and well-being.
Get Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction at California Detox
The most effective way to begin addiction treatment normally involves drug or alcohol detox. Streamline your recovery by engaging with our medical detox program at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA. Over one week or so, you can withdraw from drugs or alcohol with the benefit of medical supervision and FDA-approved medications to facilitate the process.
Following detoxification, you can move into an ongoing treatment program at our luxury beachside facility. Here, you can address the psychological aspect of addiction through an individualized array of the following therapies:
- Holistic therapies
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Individual counseling
- Aftercare and support
If you require help recalibrating your life after a period of substance abuse, dial 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance in Southern California.