Young teenager on social media

Have you ever wondered whether there is a connection between the use of social media and drug use? Whether you’re concerned about your own substance abuse and how social media could be influencing yourself or your loved ones, this article will help you to understand the link between social media and drug use in more detail.

The Rise of Social Media

The evolution of social media has had a profound impact on daily life, influencing behaviours, lifestyles, and societal norms in many ways. The social media evolution has been fuelled by the human impulse to communicate in addition to advances that have been made in digital technology.

First and foremost, social media has revolutionised the way people communicate. We can instantly share information, news, opinions, and personal experiences with a global audience.

This can shape our behaviours and attitudes, for example, the “like” culture and feedback loops on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have contributed to a culture of validation-seeking, potentially affecting self-esteem and body image. The pressure to maintain a curated online persona which is often very different to the life you’re leading can result in stress and anxiety.

Additionally, the anonymity and distance afforded by social media can lead to cyberbullying, which has real-world consequences for mental health. The constant comparison to others’ seemingly perfect lives and the fear of missing out through social media can also contribute to anxiety and depression.

The rise of social media is connected to wider societal and cultural shifts. Social media can shape these societal norms by amplifying certain beliefs, behaviours, or trends. Movements like #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and environmental activism have gained significant traction through social media.

On the flip side, it can also promote echo chambers and polarise society by reinforcing pre-existing biases. Social media can sway public opinion, encourage voters, and even influence election outcomes. However, it has also raised concerns about misinformation and the potential manipulation of elections through the spread of fake news and disinformation.

The evolution of social media platforms has fundamentally changed the way we live, communicate, and interact with the world. It has both positive and negative impacts on behaviours, lifestyles, and societal norms, and its influence is likely to continue evolving as these platforms develop further and society grapples with their effects.

Substance use and abuse is now widely seen across social media platforms, including advertisements, young people, and friends. Seeing these images and videos online has caused a certain type of branding with drug and alcohol use, which can be harmful to impressionable young people.

Society must continue to adapt to the changing landscape of social media while addressing the challenges it presents, as issues such as addiction can result from social media posts.

Is There a Connection Between Social Media and Drug Use?

Research exploring the relationship between increased social media use and susceptibility to drug use is an ongoing area of study, and findings are not always consistent.

While there is evidence to suggest that there may be some correlations between social media use and drug use, it is essential to approach this topic with caution, as the relationship is complex and influenced by various factors.
NCBI states that research has shown social media exposure to be associated with increased distress, anxiety, and substance use; this was particularly high during the Covid-19 pandemic as more people were relying on social media to connect with people.

Many studies have found correlations between heavy social media use and higher rates of drug use, but it’s important to note that correlation does not imply cause. People who are more prone to drug use may also be more likely to engage in excessive social media use, and the direction of causality is often unclear.

Social media can expose individuals to a wider range of social networks and information. It’s possible that individuals who are connected to online communities where drug use is normalised or glamorised may be more susceptible to trying drugs.

Social media is also a provider of easy to access information about drugs and their effects, this has the potential to spark curiosity and experimentation particularly amongst younger people who may not have had access to this information otherwise.

Some research has suggested that excessive social media use, especially among individuals with mental health issues, may be linked to drug use as a form of self-medication to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression.

The Psychological Impact of Social Media and Drug Use

Social media can amplify feelings of inadequacy, peer pressure, and the fear of missing out (FOMO), which, in turn, can push some individuals towards substance use. Social media platforms are often used to share the best moments of one’s life, showcasing achievements, vacations, and happy moments.

Constant exposure to these “highlight reels” can lead individuals to compare their own lives unfavourably and feel inadequate in comparison. Users tend to curate and present idealised versions of themselves online. This selective self-presentation can make others feel that their own lives are less exciting, successful, or attractive, contributing to feelings of inadequacy.

Social media connects individuals to a wide range of peer groups, some of which may normalise or encourage behaviours such as substance use. Seeing friends or influencers engaging in these behaviours can exert subtle or overt peer pressure on users to conform, particularly when likes, comments, and shares on these posts related to substance use can serve as a form of validation and encouragement.

Social media also provides real-time updates about what others are doing, where they are, and with whom. This constant flow of information can exacerbate FOMO, making individuals feel like they are missing out on exciting experiences and social events.

To avoid missing out, some individuals may engage in impulsive behaviours, including substance use, to feel included in the experiences shared by their peers.

Contact Step 1 Recovery Today

Here at Step 1 Recovery, we’re committed to providing holistic treatment and support for anyone who is affected by drug use. We have an expert team of skilled professionals who can design personalised recovery plans to help you achieve your long-term goals.

We strongly advise that you reach out and explore the many treatment options available with Step 1 Recovery. Now is the time to turn your life around and create a happier future to look forward to.