Sober Social Networks: The Role of Online Support Groups in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

Positive engagement with supportive recovery networks can support effective and sustainable recovery.

The internet allows us to connect and interact with people from around the world. Online networks have increasingly been used as a source of health information.

A recent study has analysed evidence for the value of online social networks in supporting recovery from alcohol addiction. The research particularly looked at recovery capital in terms of addiction, self‐stigma and group identification.

Information was gathered from posts within the “stories of recovery” section of the online support group SoberRecovery.

Results from the study found that:

  • Self-stigma is positively correlated with negative emotion.
  • Surprisingly, self‐stigma and self‐efficacy were positively associated.
  • Social identification was negatively and moderately correlated to self‐stigma and negative emotion
  • The negative impact of self‐stigma on psychological well‐being was mediated by social identification with the online recovery group. This finding supports the view that social identification has a positive impact on psychological well‐being.
  • Surprisingly, social identification was linked with both psychological well‐being but reduced self‐efficacy.

Overall the research provides support for online recovery networks to be considered a valuable resource, alongside other therapeutic approaches. The results show that online recovery groups can help their members by reducing internalised stigma and negative emotions.

Bliuc, Ana‐Maria, Tuyet‐Ngan Doan, and David Best. "Sober social networks: The role of online support groups in recovery from alcohol addiction." Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 29, no. 2 (2019): 121-132.
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