Digital Recovery Management: Characterizing Recovery-Specific Social Network Site Participation and Perceived Benefit

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Abstract

Research shows that digital social network sites (SNSs) may be valuable platforms to effect health behavior change. Little is known specifically about their ability to help address alcohol and other drug problems. This gap is noteworthy, given that individuals are already participating in existing, recovery-specific SNSs (hereafter referred to as recovery SNSs): online communities with the functionality of conventional SNSs (e.g., Facebook) that focus on substance use disorder (SUD) recovery. For example, InTheRooms.com (ITR) is a large, well-known recovery SNS that is available for free 24 hr/day via website and mobile smartphone applications. It offers recovery tools within a digital social milieu for over 430,000 registered users. To augment the knowledge base on recovery SNS platforms, we conducted an online survey of 123 ITR participants (M = 50.8 years old; 56.9% female; 93.5% White; M = 7.3 years of abstinence, range of 0–30 years; 65% cited alcohol as their primary substance). Respondents engaged with ITR, on average, for about 30 min/day several times each week. Daily meditation prompts and live online video meetings were the most commonly utilized resources. Participants generally endorsed ITR as a helpful platform, particularly with respect to increased abstinence/recovery motivation and self-efficacy. Compared to individuals abstinent for 1 or more years, those abstinent less than 1 year (including nonabstinent individuals) showed similar rates of engagement with ITR activities and similar levels of perceived benefit. Our findings suggest that longitudinal studies are warranted to examine the clinical utility of ITR and other recovery SNSs as SUD treatment adjuncts and/or recovery self-management tools.

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