Fortifying Your Recovery Online - Making Full Use of Internet Recovery Resources
One of the greatest things about recovery is that there’s always something more we can add to it. Technology has opened up a number of options for support and treatment that are remarkably flexible and eclectic. I love that we have emails, supportive chats, self-help group meetings and counseling services online. It’s more than convenience – it’s a safety net that means we never have to be alone or at a loss for ways to get our needs met.
- There are many online meetings (listed below) that can be used as a supplement, for times of stress and for when there aren’t meetings available; online meetings run 24/7
- A ton of literature, including the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, is available for free download.
- There are many great sites and blogs that provide information, but more importantly, these also provide us with a greater sense of connectedness in allowing us to share and communicate with folks we’d never meet in person but whose struggles are similar to our own - sites like rebellesociety.com, postsecret.com (especially their forums) and bloggers like thebloggess.com
- Online mental health therapy and addictions counseling from qualified professionals. This can be accessed individually or as part of established, evidence based programs.
Create Your Own Virtual Community
One of the many benefits of social media sites is that they offer opportunities to create online groups for shared interests. Facebook allows for the creation of groups that are public, private, or “secret", and while confidentiality is not guaranteed, it provides a place to exchange ideas and support.
One of the local recovery groups in my community created a page on which members share “gratitude lists”, readings from Hazelden, daily affirmations, devotions and other forms of inspiration. Members are also free to seek pragmatic support for things like rides to meetings.
Risks to Avoid
The biggest pitfall with utilizing online resources for recovery is that we depend on them too heavily and experience too little face to face interaction or attend too few meetings.
When I talk with folks who are struggling in their recovery the first things I ask about are connections. I inquire about spending time with others in recovery, friends and family, and their Higher Power. When any of these lag, we tend to see complacency, which inevitably leads to stagnation or decline.
A lot of sites promise free counseling or therapy and fail to deliver. Though they may offer a no cost mini session to get you started or free ongoing peer support (forums), check the fine print before agreeing to have your credit or debit card charged. Some programs charge a monthly fee and others charge a high by the minute fee for a clinician’s time (some are as high as four dollars a minute).
Before agreeing to enter into any type of clinical relationship online, check to make sure your clinician is credentialed appropriately. Reputable websites verify that the professionals they list have been background checked and are appropriately educated, trained, and licensed to perform the services you seek.
If you elect to go with a “recovery coach” or “life coach” you may find that these folks have a great deal to offer but are not generally licensed or formally trained.
If, for whatever reason, you need to be concerned that what you post on the internet will be seen by employers, family or others, consider getting a little creative. Free email sites and social media allow us to create public profiles using pseudonyms. Those close to you will know who’s writing but anyone nosy enough to Google you will not.
Though you may not be at a point in your life today to feel worried about your privacy, please bear in mind that in your successful future you may regret what you posted while low. Reach out – but do it safely.
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