Army Captain Impacts Millions with TikTok Sobriety Videos
Veterans Day is a time to honor the brave men and women who served our country. American flags are out and images of red, white, and blue drape across social media sites. One of those heroes is using his web presence to battle a stigma facing many active-duty military and veterans.
Using Social Media to Stop The Stigma of Addiction
Many military members struggle to confront the trauma they’ve experienced and that may result in a variety of issues including PTSD and substance misuse.
After serving in Iraq, Army Captain Ryan Griffis realized he was abusing alcohol to cope. He spoke with American Addiction Center’s “Addiction Talk” host, Joy Sutton, about how he turned his everyday struggle to get sober into an international support network through TikTok videos.
“In the beginning, I was just making the videos for myself and did not have an intent to really make that much of an impact,” says Griffis. “It was a tool to hold myself accountable.”
But people started to take notice and his message resonated with those struggling with addiction and in recovery. Within a year Griffis had more than 1 million followers and is known as a TikTok influencer. He has reached people all across the United States and internationally.
“I’ve personally answered about 50,000 emails,” he says.
Even the popular country music group Rascal Flatts has shown support, commenting on his progressive approach. But fame is not what motivates Griffis. “I love having the interactions and I’m grateful that I’m reaching so many people, but if it just helps one person, I’m happy.”
Griffis says every video he posts has a purpose: “To give hope and courage because that is what I needed and still need on dark days.”
The military is synonymous with bravery and strength so it can be difficult for active duty and veterans to talk about addiction and mental health issues. “I was scared to put it out there, to be vulnerable, but I felt I had to be authentic and speak from the heart.”
It’s clear for Griffis and his followers, sobriety can be achieved by stepping outside your comfort zone and having a community that supports each other.
Now, 2 years sober, Griffis is currently working on a documentary about his experience.
If you are struggling with addiction and looking for rehab for veterans, the “Salute to Recovery” program at Desert Hope offers addiction treatment paths for veterans of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as current and retired first responders.
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