Social Media May Hinder Full Drug Abuse Recovery

Results of a preliminary study done by researchers from the UCLA suggests that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter could block the full recovery of adolescents under treatment in substance abuse programs.

social networkingUCLA graduate student David Tran from the Medical Education Program conducted a survey consisting of 20 questions that was given to 37 teenagers from the different substance abuse centers in East Los Angeles.

Data gathered showed that about 92% of the participants have social media activities. Of this population, more than 75% of the girls and more than 50% of the boys claimed that there are things that they see in social networking sites which set their triggers and cravings.

According to co-study author and medical director of the UCLA Substance Abuse Pharmacotherapy Unit Keith Heinzerling, results are still at the earliest stage and could not be considered definitive yet, and that more studies with bigger sampling populations should be developed before arriving to a conclusion.

Tran explains that while they still can’t prove anything at this time, results may indicate that there are cues found in social networking sites that could lead adolescents in recovery to relapse. Though patients can be restricted from visiting social networking sites, Tran says they will only find other means to join these communities online.

But Tran and Heinzerling were quick to say that not everything about social networking sites is damaging to recovering addicts. These sites can, in fact, be used as aides in substance abuse counseling. Support groups can be established in Facebook, for instance, that will be very helpful for patients. With the combined forces of treatment programs and experts in substance abuse counseling, such kinds of social networking groups can make things a lot easier for people who want to be sober again.

Tran’s study is one of those featured in the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association for 2012.

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