Social Media Addiction Treatment: Signs, Symptoms, and Consequences

Social media use is prevalent in the United States. Almost anyone with a smartphone, which is almost anyone with a phone, will use social media.

Now, not every one of those people will be active. They’ll have accounts, but they won’t all create content for social media. However, many who do will find that their moods can be tied to how many other users like or share their posts.

For some people, seeing a post do well on a social media platform, even if it’s just a comment on another person’s content, can make them feel good. Then, people begin to crave the way it makes them feel.

At Luxe Recovery LA, we can help people with a host of addictions, whether it’s an addiction to a substance or a process.

What is Social Media Addiction?

Social media addiction is a process or behavioral addiction that is characterized by the excessive and compulsive use of social media platforms, resulting in negative impacts on an individual’s daily life, mental health, and well-being.

People with social media addiction often feel a frequent urge to check their social media accounts, sometimes every few minutes, leading to significant time spent online.

Social media addiction can interfere with work, studies, and personal relationships, as affected individuals may prioritize online interactions, such as getting likes or shares on their posts, over real-life responsibilities and relationships. 

How Can You Identify Addiction to Social Media?

Most phones can track a person’s usage and tell them how much time they spend on a specific app. But this may not always be enough. Identifying social media addiction involves recognizing several key signs and behaviors.

First, you should be aware of the amount of time spent on social media platforms. If you constantly check your accounts, even during work, school, or social interactions, this could indicate social media addiction.

If you notice that you feel anxious, restless, or irritable when you can’t access social media, then it could indicate social media addiction.

Another indicator is how your social media usage impacts your daily life. Social media addiction and addiction of any kind often cause people to neglect their responsibilities, hobbies, and real-life relationships.

You should also pay attention to your emotional state and ask yourself if you rely on social media for validation or if you feel inadequate without likes or comments. This need for likes, comments, or shares may lead to addiction.

Furthermore, If you prioritize online interactions over face-to-face communication, this also suggests a problem. Recognizing these patterns can help you take steps towards healthier social media habits. Social media may have its uses, but the effects of social media addiction can be detrimental if left unchecked.

Why is Social Media Addictive?

Social media is addictive due to its design and the psychological responses it triggers. Platforms use algorithms to show users content they’re likely to want to see, keeping them engaged. The algorithms allow social media companies to show users personalized content that constantly updates, making it hard for users to stop scrolling. 

Short-form content can be particularly difficult to detach from. A video that’s only 1 or 2 minutes long may not seem like much, but the algorithm shows a person multiple short videos quickly, and the time adds up. People can lose hours of their day before they realize what’s happening.

Instant gratification from likes, comments, and shares can stimulate the brain’s reward system and give people a dopamine rush.

This creates a cycle of seeking more validation and interaction, similar to gambling or other process addictions.

Social media addiction may also play on the fear of missing out (FOMO), which compels users to stay connected to avoid feeling left out of important or enjoyable experiences. 

How to Limit Social Media Use

Because of the prevalence of social media addiction, there are a lot of people who’d either like to cut back or unplug from social media. Some of the ways that a social media user can cut back on their usage include:

Use a ‘Dumb’ Phone

Because people typically use social media apps on their phones to feed their addiction, using a ‘dumb’ phone can greatly reduce a person’s excessive social media use. 

A ‘dumb’ phone doesn’t generally have access to the internet. It can call and text people, but that’s the sum total of what a dumb phone can do. There’s no app store to get an app or even a browser to get on a social media site.

Use Programs That Limit Social Media Use

If switching to a dumb phone is not feasible, then a person can decrease their time spent on social media by downloading an app that limits their time on social networks.

These apps can range from outright blocking a website or an app after a specific amount of time to sending gentle notifications about how much time a person has already spent on a social media platform. Sometimes, a person doesn’t need to download another app, as many phones allow users to set time limits for specific apps.

Delete Accounts

Another measure that a person with an addiction to social media can take to limit their time on social media is to delete their accounts. Many social media platforms only allow people limited access to their services if a person does not have an account with them. Without an account, a person may only go as far as the login screen.

Find Other Hobbies

As with many other addictions, people who have social media addiction are encouraged to find other hobbies. These hobbies can help social media addicts distract themselves from the use of social media.

Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness techniques can help people stay present in the moment, fight the urge to check their phones, and be more intentional and less compulsive about their social media usage.

Treatment for Social Media Addiction

In some cases, limiting social media use is not enough to overcome a social media addiction. Some people may need professional intervention to recover. Some of the treatment options include:

Inpatient Treatment

Sometimes, a person may have to check into a treatment center for residential care. While in a treatment facility, they’ll be in a controlled environment where their ability to engage in their compulsive behavior will be limited. 

They’ll be given a personalized treatment plan to help them recover from their addiction.


A person can also go to one-on-one counseling to help them overcome addiction. In one-on-one therapy, a person gets a safe space to delve into the root cause of their addiction and develop coping mechanisms to help with their triggers and cravings.

One of the main treatment modalities for any addiction is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is focused on helping people identify, address, and change the patterns of thought that lead them to unhealthy behaviors.

Support Groups

A person who has become addicted to social media can also turn to support groups. Support groups allow a person to practice the skills they learn in one-on-one counseling as well as make connections and learn from others who are also suffering from social media addiction.

Our Treatment Options Can Help if You are Addicted to Social Media

Social media can be a boon when it’s used responsibly. However, some people can develop an addiction and turn to social media for validation. Social media addiction can lead to a person missing out on real life.

At Luxe Recovery, we can help you if you have a problem with social media usage. We can help you break away from algorithms and start to live in the moment again. Contact us now, and let us help you make informed decisions about the treatment we can provide to help you start your recovery.

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