3 tips for using social media to widen addiction awareness

Online platforms’ expansive reach and relatively low cost make them vital channels for delivering information to those battling substance abuse and to those seeking to help them.


Substance abuse reaches all corners of this country. Fortunately, so does social media.

Social media enables individuals and organizations to reach millions of people at a minimal cost. All it takes is some creativity, relevant content and a good sharing strategy to get your message across.

Whether you’re an individual practitioner who wants to raise awareness of addiction or you work for a recovery center that depends on awareness to keep the doors open, social media can be the core of your outreach strategy.

Increase the effectiveness of your organization’s social media outreach by focusing on these three aspects of your communications:

1. Take a visual approach.

Today, visual content is king. Infographics, such as this one from Georgia Drug Detox , engage your audience with digestible information that is more likely to be shared than a simple blog post or research study. Memes, videos and images also do well.

These before and after pictures of heroin addicts from New Health Advisor are effective examples of the power that images can bring to a blog post or online article.

As you develop a social media strategy, make sure you’re putting visual content at the center of your approach.

2. Use facts and data.

The internet is filled with opinions, false statements and fake news, so be sure you’re using research studies and scientific reports to educate your target audience.

This infographic from Magellan Healthcare is a good example of a well-researched piece of content. Every piece of data has a citation, with sources coming from reliable organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

3. Make addiction relatable.

One primary issue with drug and alcohol addiction is that most people don’t recognize the signs and symptoms and the struggles associated with it. They never consider the possibility that someone close to them could be an addict and doesn’t know where to get help.

You can change the narrative surrounding addiction by creating a context that will raise the awareness of the average person. This article from The Huffington Post shows people that addiction is just as common next door as it is in the inner cities and impoverished areas. As you create and share content, focus on making addiction relatable to the masses. Humanize it, as opposed to criminalizing it.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn .

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