Recovery can begin long before you enter the halls of a professional recovery center.
There are a host of resources available to you and your loved ones that can make a difference on the road to a sustainable, healthy, sober life. Some of the most powerful resources out there are free of charge and accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection: Online Recovery Communities.
Online Recovery Communities are websites that offers guidance and support for individuals, their family, and their friends as they grapple with psychological disorders, particularly with substance use. The most vibrant of these communities are completely free to use and are populated by real people around the world. They provide a safe, secure, low-pressure, and anonymous forum to discuss the ups and downs of the recovery process.
You may be questioning the efficacy of any recovery efforts that occur completely online. While Online Recovery Communities may not be suited for all individuals and may not stand alone as the only form of intervention, they do have a proven track record. Before delving into how such a community might be of specific help to a person in recovery for a substance use disorder, it’s helpful to read evidence about how online discussion forums in general have been a productive tool for “real world” change.
In 2005, Pendry and Salvatore published an article in the Computers in Human Behavior journal entitled, “Individual and social benefits of online discussion forums.” The article highlights five key takeaways that active involvement with online forums can afford individuals.
- Online discussion forums have benefits at both the individual and society levels.
- They are positively linked to well-being for stigmatized group members.
- Online discussion forum use is linked to offline civic engagement in related areas.
- Identification with other forum users mediates the above relationships.
- Online discussion forums are of greater applied importance than has been realized.
These points and the above academic paper are useful for anyone on the fence about whether an online community can have a real-life impact. If you have taken part in a meaningful online interaction or not, it’s not too late to begin. Each of these five ideas can be directly applied to a person taking strides towards recovery.
In more specific terms, an online recovery forum is a place to collaborate with others who are experiencing and dealing with similar challenges. It is an opportunity to communicate anonymously, if you wish. Forums are a space to receive support and give it — both powerful tools in maintaining the recovery effort.
See, for example, the forums at SoberRecovery.com, one of the most active online recovery communities in the world. Everyday many conversations take place among users in all stages of recovery. This thread is for new members arriving to the community. It includes a range of supportive conversations. One is called the 24 Hour Recovery Connection. It is posted anew each morning with this description:
Please join others in making a commitment to stay clean and sober for the next 24 Hours.
Check in once a day and every day by posting your local time. You may post a special message or song or image or your story.
Anyone can volunteer to do something special for the group.
Some selections from Part 279 of the thread, originally posted by moderator Dee74, include:
- 24 more on a stormy Monday morning, please!
Have a great day or night,
- Thanks for keeping the doors open, Dee!
It’s 5:28 AM and I’m in for another sober 24.
- In for 24 hours of clean and sober living!
- Day 50! Checking in for 24 hours of sobriety!
- You’re doing it now! You’re sober today! Each night you get that head on your pillow sober is a massive achievement and that’s why it’s so important to come here and check in etc. We know. We’ve been there. You are not alone xxx
This variety of affirmation is one of many ways in which such a community is built by and works to support its members. Explore Sober Recovery for more threads — information, news, jokes, serious stories, and genuine support — about recovery and not going it alone.
Other sites provide similar networks of free support. In The Rooms describes itself as the “World’s Largest, Online Social Network for the Global Recovery Community.” The Redditors in Recovery community on Reddit.com has the benefit of being part of the larger Reddit network and also provides a comprehensive list of other online support systems.
If you haven’t found the right fit for you listed in this post, do a few searches for one that fits your needs. There are many out there for free, available with support from people like you. Also, don’t forget that in-person professional help is always available at Willingway.