Does FOMO And Social Media Increase Addiction?



Edited by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

SpringBoard Recovery was born from the passion and personal experience of its founders. We understand the real-world challenges of early recovery and are here to help and we are passionate about helping our clients lead balanced, healthy, and fulfilling lives.


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.


Getting and staying sober is very challenging, but with the right support network and tools, it's completely attainable.

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.


  1. Statista:
  2. Stanford University:
  3. Verywell family:
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  5. HelpGuide:
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
  7. Science Daily:
  8. Journal of Psychiatry and Brain Functions:
  9. Verywell family:
  10. The Emotion Machine:

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Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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