Online communities of recovery from addiction – the role of positive social interactions

Bliuc, A.  (Western Sydney University), Iqbal, M. (Victoria University), Best, D. (Sheffield Hallam University)

How does participation in an online support community contribute to personal journeys of recovery? The present research investigates whether recovery capital building and markers of positive identity development predict retention in a recovery program for people in early stage of recovery. To map how the participants interact online, social network analysis (SNA) based on naturally occurring online data (N = 609) on the Facebook page of a recovery community was conducted. Computerised linguistic analysis was used to conduct a sentiment analysis of the textual data (capturing social identity markers). Linear regression analysis was used to test whether indicators of recovery capital predict program retention. We found that program retention was determined by a) the number of comment ‘likes’ and all ‘likes’ received on the Facebook page; b) position in the social network (degree of centrality); and c) linguistic content around group identity and achievement. In conclusion, we argue that positive online interactions between members of recovery communities support the recovery process through helping participants to develop recovery capital that binds them to groups supportive of positive change.


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Social Identity and Intergroup Processes