Does FOMO And Social Media Increase Addiction?
Nearly seven in 10 American adults have at least one social media account. From breakfast foods to weekend adventures, we’re absorbing our surroundings through a digital screen. The focus of social media a few years ago was to help families and friends connect in a new way. However, studies now show social media may now play a role in “addiction, depression, and political polarization.” One of the main components of that negative effect is FOMO or the fear of missing out. FOMO is believed to strongly affect people ages 18 to 33, with roughly two-thirds of people in this age group experiencing FOMO regularly. But is FOMO more than just the sinking feeling of missing a good time? Recent research considers if social media increases addiction rates or is responsible for a spike in relapse cases for those overcoming dependency on drugs and alcohol.
FOMO and Dual Diagnosis
Dual diagnosis, also called co-occurring disorders, is when a patient experiences a substance use disorder and mental illness simultaneously. An estimated 7.9 million people suffer from substance abuse and a mental disorder, according to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. For those nearly 8 million people, FOMO may have a more drastic effect on relapse during recovery.
University of Houston researcher Mai-Ly Steers revealed an association between time spent on Facebook and depressive symptoms for both genders. For substance-dependent patients also dealing with feelings of depressions, social media may intensify those feelings, pulling the patient toward drug or alcohol use to cope. In a second study, Steers discovered a relationship between the amount of time spent on Facebook and depressive symptoms was mediated by social comparisons on Facebook. Both studies showed Facebook users felt depressed when comparing themselves to others.
For those in recovery following dual diagnosis, social media can play a significant role in triggering or intensifying feelings of anxiety or depression. Social comparison is nothing new as generations have been trying to keep up with the Joneses for years. Facebook and other social media channels give us an inside look into the lives of friends, acquaintances, and strangers that we otherwise would never see. From vacations and parties to new homes and cars, social media is a constant platform of comparison and potential feeling of missing out.
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How FOMO On Social Media Increases Addiction
Social media can distort our perception of people’s lives, leaving us with the feeling that others are living interesting, eventful lives, while we live through the mediocre events of going to work, paying bills, and completing chores. It’s that feeling of mundaneness and the fear that we’re missing out on something great in life that leads some to consume alcohol or use illicit drugs.
One study of college students found those who suffered a higher degree of FOMO drank 1.5 times as much as those who did not experience high levels of FOMO. The study also found that alcohol and drugs were rarely the desired reward for those battling FOMO. For many within the study, “a higher drive for rewarding social experiences may lead those higher in FOMO to take more risks or engage in higher-risk drinking activities to maximize socialization opportunities.”
Not only does FOMO have the ability to influence an alcohol abuse patient to continue or return to using alcohol, but those who experience FOMO are more likely to exhibit risky behavior when they do drink.
How To Avoid FOMO
Research shows there is a genuine correlation between the amount of time spent on digital technology and higher levels of stress and depression. For substance and alcohol abuse patients, reducing the risk of FOMO is crucial to their success in addiction treatment or alcohol treatment.
To reduce the power of FOMO while in treatment or beginning your life of sobriety, follow these key points:
- Reduce social media use: Researchers suggest no more than 30 minutes of social media per day to help keep your emotions in check and avoid the feeling of missing out. When you first begin your treatment plan, avoiding social media altogether is a better option.
- Look beyond the photo: Feeling that you’re missing out stems from the experience and fun you perceive from social media posts. Realizing that you’re seeing a snapshot of a person’s life grounds you in the fact that they also work, pay bills, and deal with stressful moments.
- Create your own experiences: Close the social media feed and create real-life experiences of your own. Stop feeling that you’re missing out because of photos from others and build your memories.
When you’re ready to seek help for your substance abuse at a drug treatment center in Scottsdale, AZ, the caring team at Springboard Recovery is ready to help. Our experienced drug treatment specialists will walk you through a program that is tailored to your needs, giving you the clarity and confidence to build a life you love living, and leave behind the fear of missing out.