Crossover Kenya’s Harleen Jabbal interviewed turnaround Coach Kevin Sullivan on how social media is being misused by drug dealers to gain more consumers, as if there are not enough and people dealing with various addiction issues.
Here’s the interview:
- What is the use of Social Media today? Even though it was started with the best of intentions to connect the world, what’s wrong now or what’s working?
Like any advancement in communications, social media was created with the intention of bringing us all closer together. Some of us have a hard time remembering that. We are often guilty of commodifying people’s reactions to our posts; it feels good to get a lot of positive reactions, and when we don’t receive this positive feedback we sometimes feel like we’re not good enough. We sometimes can be guilty of mixing our own self-worth with the attention we receive online.
Others will work to take advantage of vulnerable groups on social media. Social media has made it easier than ever to find people who come from similar backgrounds to build support groups. This has been perfect for the recovery community because a key to sobriety is having a strong support system to rely on. What’s happening now is the digitalization of the all too common occurrence of the drug dealer at the group meeting. These infiltrators will hide behind anonymous screen names and attempt to sell substances to those trying to get sober.
- If we are so connected, then why is help so difficult to find?
Help is hard to find because it’s often hard to know what resources we can trust online. Can we trust the advice of a stranger we meet online? Can we trust an article a friend came across?
- How are drug dealers using social media to get to customers? What can be done other than flagging them down?
Drug dealers are trying to find new consumers by infiltrating posts and groups of those trying to get sober. They know that if they can get them to relapse, they’ll have a lifelong customer. Social media companies have to do a better job of policing their own platforms, and if they fail to do so, we as a society have to push for legislation that will hold them accountable for the ease of drug distribution on their platforms.
- As a “turnaround” guy, what are the lessons you learned then that are still relevant today?
My career in business has shown me that hard work is rewarded, and all obstacles are capable of being overcome, no matter how daunting. My upbringing in the midwest had taught me that success is almost never just on the back of one person, and that lesson has followed me into recovery and my life as a sobriety coach. My life as an entrepreneur fostered my ability to build communities. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that in order to get a group of people to follow my lead, I needed to have a calm, confident demeanor.
- What is worse, losing your money or your inner truth?
To me, these aren’t necessarily separate things. I’ve lost both wealth and truth, and a loss of one usually is followed by the loss of another. It’s the human condition to sometimes feel like the world is too big for us to stand in and get lost sometimes. Both types of losses have brought me to where I am today, and I don’t view either as bad things.
- What is keeping you going, despite the tools of making our lives easier, yet we remain unhappy?
I have hope that social media will ultimately do more good than bad. When used correctly, social media can be used to feel less isolated in a world where someone might think they are all alone.
- What is attracting drug users to stay addicted?
Beneath every addiction is a wound, some trauma or insecurity that someone is running from. When we are reminded of this wound it is easy for us to turn to substances that provide some form of escape, for some that’s drugs or other vices.
It is important to remember that addicts don’t choose to be addicts. They don’t want to hurt themselves and those around them, they are genetically predisposed to become reliant on a certain substance. Even when they swear off a substance they often forget how much pain that substance has caused them and convince themselves to have one more drink, take one more pill, or to do one more bump.
- As a motivational coach what has been your biggest challenge in convincing addicts that there is something better for them.
For me, the biggest challenge is understanding that addicts don’t want to be addicts, that more often than not they are already aware of the damage they are causing themselves.I’ve learned that what I do isn’t about fixing people, it’s about sitting with a person in their brokenness. It’s about being more of a supportive listener than trying to find a cure for them. What I do is not a perfect science, every person is different, and I need to approach every person without judgment or a need to change them.
- What is your end game in this fight?
My end goal in this fight is to help foster communities for addicts to get accurate information and much-needed support. I want to develop a network where people from all works of life feel comfortable coming forward about their struggles with addiction. I want to be part of the solution to destigmatize this issue and lead the fight against those in society that are profiting off of our addictions.
About Kevin Sullivan
Kevin Sullivan is a sobriety coach, motivational speaker and serial entrepreneurial success who, proudly in recovery himself, is committed to helping others struggling with addiction. Known as the “turnaround guy,” for his ability to flourish in challenging markets, Kevin has helped kickstart successful multi-million dollar businesses in several different verticals including Job.com, Eniware, and Viggle. Kevin was also the driving force behind launching pizza franchises Domino’s and Papa John’s in the world’s pizza capital, NYC, transforming it into the most profitable market in the country for both companies.