TikTok’s New Recovery Community

TikTok has a new recovery community sprouting on its platform. Within the popular app, users are rejecting content that encourages drug use or behavioral disorders. Instead, creators are posting pro-recovery material that combats substance abuse, behavioral addictions, and stigmas. Through social media, they challenge the world’s views on what it means to be a recovering addict.

How It All Started

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, TikTok became one of the most popular apps in the world. The video-sharing service’s eye-catching 7 to 60-second clips became a light during those bleak quarantine moments. People who were stuck at home dove into countless short-form stories as a form of entertainment. As weeks passed, various niche genres like bread making, thrifting, and education gained traction. One of those niches turned into an outlet for today’s recovery community.

How TikTok’s Recovery Community Is Changing the Narrative

Much like Instagram once did, TikTok has given space to a group of individuals rising above addiction. Content creators cultivate an area where it’s ok to struggle, laugh, and share the “ugly.” Many of them share posts showcasing their recovery from alcohol abuse and overcoming obstacles. Others who battle co-occurring disorders post countless videos of recovery benchmarks and relapses.

The social network is no longer an app for just dancing kids and teens. Adults, both old and young, are destigmatizing society’s views on addiction through the viral platform. With hashtags like #soberlution, #wedorecover, and #recoveringaddict, the narrative is changing. Every day, individuals are shedding light on the true experiences of recovering users.

The Challenges

TikTok may be providing a space for the recovery community to use their voice, but the app is not perfect. According to the Guardian, harmful pro-anorexia content was easily searchable on the platform. A different investigation by the Sun discovered hundreds of videos glamorizing drug use. Based on the same study, posts also taught users how to take substances like Cocaine or magic mushrooms.

In response to these studies, TikTok launched an investigation in 2020. Since then, they have taken measures to prevent the posting of harmful content and advertising. Still, despite their best efforts, the toxic messages continue to seep through. There are thousands of videos flying below the network’s algorithm. These videos, coined as “underground” trends, range from live videos of influencers sharing their experiences during a “trip” to challenges like the Benadryl challenge, which encourages users to take large doses of the antihistamine to induce hallucinations.

TikTok, The Recovery Community, And The Future

TikTok may have illicit videos circulating through its platform. Still, it also has its fair share of positive messages surrounding recovery. The social network is a sea of information with the potential of causing both harm and good. While TikTok continues improving its algorithm and prohibiting pro-drug use content, it is up to TikToker’s to decide which videos to consume.

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Suzette Gomez

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  • Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.

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