For many in recovery, online communities are a great space to connect with people going through similar experiences. Nikki, known online as @ASoberLady, has more than 5,000 followers on Twitter and uses the platform to share her thoughts and encourage others. In this blog, she describes how after seeking professional support with her drinking she was also able to find a community online.
Although online communities can be beneficial for some people, they are no replacement for professional treatment. If you are worried about your drinking, speak with your GP about what support might be available to you or someone you are concerned about. You can find out more on our support page.
The online recovery community is huge and was a life changer for me. Everyone has their preferred social media platform and mine is Twitter.
I remember typing in different hashtags like #alcoholic and #alcoholism, and while it brought up lots of rehab centres in America and advertisements, it also brought up the other hashtags out there which proved to be a revelation. There’s #SoberLife, #SoberCommunity, #Recovery and most importantly to me, #RecoveryPosse.
The tweets under the hashtag #RecoveryPosse felt personal. There seemed to be a community of support, understanding and zero judgement.
The stigma of alcohol dependency is huge and prevents many from seeking support. Social media can be the beginning of a journey to recovery for many. Everyone that uses the #RecoveryPosse hashtag seems to be at a different stage of their journey and can all help each other in different ways; from finding the courage to seek professional support to getting through a low day.
Before Twitter, I’d started going to 12 Step Recovery meetings. It was in the very early days of my sobriety and at that stage I didn’t want to talk or ask questions and felt quite overwhelmed in the room with all eyes on the new person.
On Twitter I was truly anonymous. I could read what others said and even ask questions without feeling like everyone was looking at me. I could read about other people’s experiences at any time of the day. I had a support network in my pocket.
Very quickly I was welcomed into the fold and a new recovery world was opened up to me. I found out that some #RecoveryPosse regulars held Zoom meetings every week and others had their own podcasts. Some had even written their own books about their recovery. Being a part of this network meant everything.
When I was drinking I had no idea this community existed, and oh my, what an amazing thing it would have been to have back then. The dark pit of my alcohol dependency was a lonely and depressing place to be. No one could understand and no one could help me. But this community called the #RecoveryPosse seemed to hold out their hands and say jump on board, we’ve got you. Maybe I would have held my hand out for help sooner if I’d known it was there years ago.
It isn’t all flowers and sparkles though. With social media comes its trolls, and there are those online who relish in saying hurtful things to people who are in a very vulnerable place. Even within the recovery community, not everyone gets along and so falling outs can also happen.
In the early days of my sobriety a ‘before and after’ comparison photo of mine went viral. Following this, I was invited on Stephan Nolan’s show on BBC Radio 5 Live and Jeremy Vine’s show on BBC Radio 2 to talk about my alcohol dependency and recovery. From this I received a lot of abuse and if I was in a more vulnerable position emotionally, this could have had serious consequences.
It’s important to try and be aware of your emotions if you are using online platforms as a person in recovery. If you find posts to be triggering or as if your sobriety could be negatively impacted in some way, take a break from social media and remember what the ‘block’ button is there for. It’s ok if you find that online communities aren’t the right fit for you – continue to seek guidance from health care professionals about what’s best for your own recovery.
For me, the online community I’ve found has been invaluable. I have now started a YouTube Channel called ‘Sober Lady Talks’ on which I share videos and live streams talking about my alcohol dependency and recovery and answering questions anyone has. I am not a medical professional but share my experience as someone who has managed to achieve sobriety. Sometimes people want to hear from those who are just like them and it is heart-warming to know my story has helped others.
The most important lesson I’ve learned online is that you don’t have to be alone, we recover together.
Written by Nikki
If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, there is help available.
Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. Calls are free and confidential. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9.00am to 8.00pm, weekends 11.00am to 4.00pm).
More information about organisations which offer help and support can be found on our support page.
This blog was published with the permission of the author. The views expressed are solely the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Alcohol Health Alliance or its members.