For millions of people across the country, the social media app Instagram is the place where you can share pictures, tell Stories and keep up with the happenings of family and friends. But now, the Facebook-owned brand is adding one more feature to its toolkit: Recovery Assistance. That’s right, starting this week the site will offer pop up push notifications if you begin searching addiction-related topics.
The Verge actually helped bring this story to the mainstream, sharing an article and details from Instagram’s admins. Reps who keep track of searches and hashtag clicks on the app were noticing a sharp increase in addiction inquiries. This ranged from people seeking out recovery help, to those looking for illegal drug dealers. As a response, they installed an update that halts users when type or click specific terms.
From now on, if you were to click a hashtag like #opioids, you may see a notification like the picture below.
The message will remain constant and reads, “If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid or substance misuse, find ways to get free and confidential treatment referrals, as well as information about substance abuse, prevention, and recovery.”
Then with the touch of a finger, users can opt in to receive recovery services. The choice is not mandatory, but will continue as you search these terms. The hope is that eventually people in need will click. And for the record, this movement utilized some of Facebook’s most high-powered connections. The “Support” program includes input from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and The Partnership for Drug Free Kids.
Additionally, there have been discussions to block sensitive search queries and hashtags from people who they suspect to be dealing. Reps from the company have openly said that they are adamantly against their platforms being used in this way.
Facebook too, is rolling out a similar program. People who search specific terms there (such as “buy Xanax”) will receive a support box pop-up. Other illicit drug search terms have been blocked from the platform entirely.
To us, this all sounds very promising. It is encouraging to see big corporations like Facebook take a stand for recovery on their digital platforms. And though some have argued that this movement is too little too late, it is certainly better than nothing at all.