Deleting Facebook: Are Social Media Apps Influencing Young Adults to Use Substances?

Social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are different but share similarities. First, users generate an account, then link to a network of friends, family, or groups, and proceed to use the platform to share personal thoughts and ideas, videos, photos, and other user-generated content. In the United States in 2019, there were 190 million active users on Facebook, 330 million active users on Twitter, and 110 million active users on Instagram. Although users saturate these platforms, research shows that exposure to other’s social media pages displaying negative behaviors also influences young adults’ use of drugs or alcohol. 

Social Media is Addictive Itself

Social networking sites, also known as SNS, include platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The use of these social media platforms causes stress due to their use. When dealing with stress-induced by SNS, users do not just stop using them; instead, they change how they use them. For example, research revealed that social media users would switch from posting updates to scanning news feeds to chatting with friends, depending on which ones were inducing stress. They essentially “bounce around” the platforms to avoid stress, instead of cutting out social media use altogether. These actions may lead to an addiction to the social media platform itself. Using the same social media platforms that cause stress to battle stress seems illogical, but that is how the use becomes obsessive, compulsive, and, ultimately, an addiction. 

Social Media is Free Advertising

Seeing other people’s “highlighted” lives may cause negative emotions, such as jealousy and anger. Users of SNS are seeking solace from stress and using these sites as a means of escape or coping. Unfortunately, the use of SNS causes stress itself and may lead to anxiety disorders, depression, and addictions. Addiction to the SNS is not the only possible outcome, as social media use positively relates to increased alcohol use in young adults. The content generated on these social media platforms is from other users, so images of alcohol and drug use are rampant on these sites. Images of drinking and using drugs are known to influence young adults, and social media promotes the sharing of information and connecting to others. Alcohol and drug-related texts or statuses and photos of consumption or use abound on SNS. 

Therefore, other users unknowingly become advertisements for smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using drugs through their own social media pages. Although these advertised risky behaviors become displayed on social media platforms, they are not so quick to display the negative consequences of engaging in them. Embarrassment, hangovers, arrests, or other negative consequences associated with these risky behaviors are rarely, if ever, posted on SNS.

Furthermore, alcohol companies ask users to “like” their social media pages on Facebook and then ask them to take photos of themselves imbibing their specific alcohol beverage. There may be giveaways or contests associated with participating in these requests, which furthers the amount of “free advertising” for the alcohol company. It is difficult to censor the content that a social media user is exposed to on SNS like Facebook. Since generating an account does not require age-verification, you can choose whichever age you wish when setting up your page. Therefore, drug or alcohol-related content exposure for young adults is a real problem.

Psychological Theories Help Explain Social Media Influence

Social media strongly influences young adults and is explored through two classic psychological theories: Social Learning Theory and the Media Practice Model. The Media Practice Model suggests that the role of media choices influence intentions and behaviors, and young adults choose and interact with social media based on who they are or who they want to be in that moment. Therefore, social media users explore content based on behaviors they wish to engage in, which can lead to the reinforcement of these ideas. So, an adolescent who is contemplating alcohol consumption may decide to watch a movie or browse social media content that depicts drinking at a party, which in turn may inspire them to attend a party in the future. 

Social Learning Theory is a combination of two other theories, and suggests that there is a strong relationship between peer influence and behavior:

  1. Cognitive Learning Theory suggests that psychological factors influence learning.
  2. Behavioral Learning Theory presumes that we build learning upon our responses to environmental stimulants.

Therefore, combining the two theories, Social Learning Theory identifies four requirements for learning:

  1. Observation, or learning from others.
  2. Retention, or continued use of the substance.
  3. Reproduction or imitating behaviors.
  4. Motivation, or feeling rewarded by acting the same way as others.

Consequently, young adults learn through direct experience and observing others. Observing peers is a significant influence on young adults’ intentions, attitudes, and behaviors. This relationship is evidenced by early alcohol use, which is mainly dependent upon peer alcohol use. In regards to social media use, these observations are no longer limited to physical interactions, but are online, on cellphones and computers. 

Looking for Help?

Today, social media is pervasive in our society, easily available, and accessed continuously as a source of information for young adults. SNS combines the influence of social persuasion with the reach of mass media, and exposure to alcohol and drug use through these platforms is associated with higher instances of adolescent substance use. Social media is creating a more powerful influence on drinking behavior for these at-risk populations. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a safe and nurturing space for a long-lasting road to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


How Social Media Can Be Less Toxic For Our Mental Health

How Social Media Can Be Less Toxic For Our Mental Health

Social media may have good intentions in trying to provide strong connections with others on a professional and personal level, but it can also shatter the mental health and body image of others as well. We may not be able to control what others post, but social media can control the functions they have set up that can fuel the damage that inflicts social media. By social media sites taking responsibility for the functions that make an impact on a person’s mental health, more companies can follow suit and be more aware of their actions.

New Policies on Instagram

A 2017 study showed that Instagram has had the worst effect on a person’s mental health, including eating disorders and body image issues. Facebook is trying to change all of that. They announced two new policies to ensure the wellbeing of members is improved as well as creating a healthier culture around dieting. One of them is that Instagram will prevent those under 18 from being shown any ads that are related to dieting. Another is that it will ban any ads that will glorify certain diets or weight loss products. Facebook has also announced that it is trying to hide likes. While these policies are heading in the right direction, we need to ask if there is a limit to what can be done for social media to not touch the mental health of others.

Commentary From the Experts

Emily Brunner, CEO of the Recovery Clinic and psychotherapist in eating disorders and body image issues, believes there needs to be a stronger relationship between users and social media companies. She believes that these companies need to take the feedback of users more seriously. Brunner also believes that the biggest problem is that users do not have the ability to be specific when it comes to reporting harmful content. When you flag it, it does not tell you why it is reported, problematic, or offensive. This can help companies decide whether this content is personal for one person or could make a negative impact on the masses. Brunner believes that the problem does beyond diet ads.

Dr. Ysabel Gerrard, a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, believes in the opposite in that Facebook’s efforts should be appreciated. That Facebook is speaking to experts, activists, and health practitioners, showing that they care. Dr. Gerrard thinks that there is no point in calling what Facebook is doing a PR stunt as they did not have to engage in any of these efforts. Despite admiring Facebook's efforts, Dr. Gerrard still believes that these policies are not perfect. Deciding what is considered a “glamorous diet ad” is subjective. There may not be a way to know what ads should not be seen.

Recommended Content

Dr. Gerrard worries about the content that gets recommended to people. Liking a certain post or engaging with certain people can make you see more and more content with the potential of it being harmful. For example, if you like a post on Instagram about eating disorders, all you will get is more posts about eating disorders flooding your home feed. Just when you want one day where you do not see the same familiar content, you cannot get that as it is all run by an algorithm. For example, British teenager Molly Russell killed herself after getting graphic images of suicide and self-harm that was recommended by her Instagram account months before. Pinterest was sending her automatic emails of violent images of death that said: “things you might love.”

Social Media’s Pressure to Compare

In reality, there is only so much that social media companies can do. You cannot control the dialogue that people on social media have with each other about eating disorders and mental health. But, fixing one policy will not fix the lengths of time when women were told how to look, the ads of products and creams, and what the standards are beauty are. The cosmetic and beauty industry is to blame for centuries of putting pressure on women while social media is just another addition to the pressure. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and the lives they lead which makes us feel small. Before social media, people would compare themselves to models. Now, social media allows us to compare ourselves to average people. Our friends on social media could be making us feel like they exercise more or can afford more than others. 

Where to Go From Here

Because Facebook is the largest social media site, the company most likely feels a responsibility to ensure that no member on their sites is harmed by functions that the company places. Removing the like button and controlling the ads may not be the sole solution to solving how social media affects mental health, but it is a start. Big companies like Facebook do have a responsibility to ensure that their websites are making others happy and making any changes to ensure that. While these social media sites may be addictive now, accounts will be deleted and fewer people will join when they realize what these accounts are doing to their mental health. People will find other ways to communicate compared to continuing to go on a site that will make them feel lousy. Facebook taking the first steps to protect the mental health of its members shows just what a priority our mental state is.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Facebook Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health Acceptance in the Workplace

Facebook Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health Acceptance in the Workplace

Facebook recently held a live watch video of the cast and producer of “Dear Evan Hansen” speaking about mental health in children and teens and another about mental health in the workplace. Considering Facebook is the most popular social media website, its large team is helping to break the stigma of mental health in the workplace. Facebook believes they can help break the stigma of mental health in the workplace by its three core principles- increasing awareness, improving access to care, and creating peer-to-peer support.

Facebook’s Panel of Dear Evan Hansen

In the panel at Facebook’s New York office, producer Stacey Mindich spoke about how her show “Dear Evan Hansen”, a musical about a teenager with social anxiety and depression becomes part of a lie that involves pretending to be friends with another student who committed suicide, speaks about the importance of human relationships. The more people communicate with each other, the more people will realize that they are not alone. That by speaking to your parents, children, and friends can make an impact in saving their lives.

Mindich wanted to be able to tell this story to show different ways that parents are with their children and how it is still a challenge to be able to speak to your kids. That it is not always about how the conversation takes place, but about a parent being able to sit there and just listen to their kid speaking about any issues they are facing. 

Increasing Awareness

In order for Facebook to help increase awareness, their goal is to make it easier for employees to feel comfortable talking about mental health issues in the workplace. Employees need to realize that their careers will not be affected by speaking out about their mental illnesses. Because Facebook has a large team, it was easy for them to create an environment where different seniority levels and offices all over the world feeling comfortable sharing their stories. By having different people work at Facebook, more people felt confident with themselves opening up. It also helps that Facebook used #OpenUp to encourage employees to speak about their mental health battles, coping mechanisms, and success stories online.

Improving Access to Quality Care

The first way to improve quality care is allowing flexibility to get the quality care that employees need to thrive in the workplace. Facebook encourages employees to work hours that they feel comfortable with. This will help them be able to work space in their schedules to be able to attend therapy or go to a doctor’s appointment. 

The second way is giving employees access to resourceful care plans. While there are businesses that offer three in-house therapy sessions to employers, Facebook does not think that it is enough to get to the root of an employee’s mental illness. The alternative that Facebook provides is by partnering with a mental health provider called Lyra to provide each person 25 therapy sessions for free. This has helped employees show up at work and have a more positive attitude in the workplace. The third way is in the Menlo Park office in California where there are 12 or 13 on-site counselors also provided with Lyra. 

Peer-to-Peer Support

In order to achieve the effects of employees being able to talk and support each other through their mental illnesses, Facebook used an online collaboration tool of their creation called “Workplace.” Because the #OpenUp campaign was a success in having employees share their stories, struggles, and successes within the workplace, Facebook realized that smaller groups within Facebook were facing or faced in the past struggles with their mental health. Lead Software Facebook Engineer Rafi Romero was one of the first employees to share their story in the group after wanting to tell the truth to his employees for a long time. He said that the experience was both terrifying and liberating in being able to share his story.

Three-Prong Approach for Smaller Companies

Renee Albert, director of Facebook’s Life@ benefits program, has a three way approach for smaller companies to have more confidence opening up about their mental illnesses. One way is by creating focus groups and challenging employees to talk about the actual problem that they need solutions for. Mental illnesses can be very broad in that you have anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, OCD, eating disorders, anger management, addiction, etc. By getting to understand the root of a problem, you will know better what to do about it.

The second way is through redefining what quality care looks like. This means partnering with vendors that can help encourage employees about telling their stories and implementing strategies throughout the workplace. When Facebook decided to partner with Lyra, Facebook can provide better quality care to their employees. The third way is for employers to create a culture that lets people have open discussions about mental health. While employees already talk about mental health outside of work, it may be hard for them to talk about it in the office in fear of losing their job. If we are already having these conversations naturally with our friends and families, there should be no problem to be able to speak about mental illness to your co-workers and even to your boss. With a large company like Facebook breaking the stigma of how to better mental health talks in the workplace, more big or small companies can be inspired to do the same. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center using evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


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Facebook For Longevity?

Digital addiction, technology addiction, social media addiction- there’s a lot of concern with how much time we spend using digital technology. Endless studies have revealed horrifying conclusions. We’ll be blind, more depressed, and more addicted to digital screens the more we use them. Social media was supposed to be a connecting force, making people all over the world feel like they have access to all the rest of the world’s people. Instead, it increased feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. Social media use causes anxiety, difficulties in concentration, and has been reported to cause similar effects in the brain to cocaine. Now, research suggests, social media platforms like Facebook might contribute to a longer life.

Could Facebook be Good for Us?

Does that mean even more time spent in the clutch of digital technology? Possibly. What researchers are indicating is a life that feels more rich in social connection, as opposed to social isolation. With the impending introduction and integration of virtual reality, people are on their way to feeling closer to other people in the digital world as they do in the real world. Socially, interactions online have many of the same components of relationships offline. The research found that more friends online equals a longer life as opposed to less friends online.

Low mortality rates were found among those who had “moderate use” of Facebook out of the 12 million profiles and health records made available to the study. In addition, the more one is requested to be a friend, the less likely they are to have an early mortal passing.

It's all about Balance

In terms of socialization, it is important for one to feel socially included, admired, and desired. Though this research contradicts some earlier findings regarding online relationships, it neglects some of the core: quality over quantity. Having thousands of followers or friends is easy to do by manipulating certain algorithms or spending a lot of time online. How quality those relationships are will still continue to contribute to overall well being and most likely mortality rate.

Enlightened Solutions believes in the power of human to human connection. We place our clients in the middle of a recovery focused community and encourage healthy relationships among their peers. Treating substance use issues and co-occurring mental health disorders, Enlightened offers a holistic approach to treatment of mind, body, and spirit. For more information, call 833-801-5483.


Should You Quit Social Media For The Holidays?

The holidays aren’t merry and bright for everyone. Though winter cheer is supposed to warm our hearts despite the frightful weather outside, for many, the holidays are a dismal time. Far from being a bah-humbug, some have experienced great loss, abandonment, or trauma during the holidays. Growing up without the picture postcard perfect holiday celebrations can make witnessing the celebrations of others difficult. Recovery is a time to redefine how you want to relate to and spend your holiday season. It is also a time to learn how to manage your fear of missing out, the way you compare yourself to others, and the way you feel about yourself. Even so, the holidays can be hard. For this reason, many 12 step meeting clubhouses around the world have 24 hour meeting schedules during specific holiday celebrations. There is usually a spike in sobriety dates during January as people hit their bottoms during the holidays.

Social Media Detox

Holidays are just a season and a single day in the year. As we’ve learned to do, we take it all in stride, one day at a time. The holidays will pass and there will be a whole other set of eleven months during the year until they return.

It is perfectly okay to feel slightly disturbed or uncertain during the holidays. Engaging in regular self-care is of critical importance during these times. One practice that might be beneficial to add to your holiday self-care regimen is quitting social media temporarily.

Getting Your Head on Straight

New research suggests that quitting social media, specifically Facebook, can increase your sense of happiness. However, the research is limited in its credibility. Many studies have shown that Facebook can increase feelings of FOMO, isolation, and depression. Going without Facebook long term has not been studied longitudinally or in a blind study. However, the results from such studies show that there is a definite difference between those who can give up their social media vices and those who cannot.

Taking A Holiday Social Media Detox

Set out a final post wishing everyone a happy holidays and sign off. With your free time, read a book you’ve been eyeing, pick up a new hobby like playing the guitar, or spend time exploring an area you’ve been wanting to see. Make the holiday season yours by creating your own memories.

At Enlightened Solutions we offer clients a way to create a new life for themselves integrating therapeutic practices and holistic lifestyles for total transformation. Our certified treatment center works to help those with substance use disorder issues as well as co-occurring secondary issues. For more information, call 833-801-5483.