Fake Instagram Account Shows It’s Not Always Easy To Spot Addiction

By Britni de la Cretaz 10/11/16

The "Like My Addiction" campaign was created to raise awareness of drinking among young people.

Fake Instagram Account Shows It’s Not Always Easy To Spot Addiction

If someone you knew had a drinking problem, would you be able to spot it?

That’s the question Addict Aide, a French organization that works to bring awareness to drug and alcohol use disorders, wanted answered. To prove the point that it’s not always easy to spot addiction, even in people close to you, the organization—with help from ad agency BETC—launched a campaign called “Like My Addiction” in the form of a fake Instagram account: @louise.delage.

Louise was a 25-year-old woman who posted photos of herself living a life that most people would be envious of. However, if you looked closely, there was something you’d notice about her photos. In the majority of the pictures posted to Louise’s account, she has a drink in her hand.

The ad campaign was both a brilliant commentary on addiction not looking like what many people suspect it does, and a great way to use a social media platform to get that message across. BETC president and creative director Stéphane Xiberras told AdFreak that they thought setting up a fake Instagram account would be “an interesting way of showing … a person people would meet every day but whom we'd never suspect of being an addict.”

In the United States, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), and one in every 12 adults abuse or depend on alcohol. Yet, in a culture where binge drinking and social drinking is normalized, it can be hard to catch.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has a list of questions to ask if you suspect that a loved one may be struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD). They include questions like “In the past year, have you or your loved one had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?” and “In the past year, have you or your loved one spent a lot of time drinking or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?”

"If somebody is concerned about a loved one or someone in their lives and their drinking, the first thing you do is ask them gentle questions—you follow up," Aaron White, Ph.D., senior scientific advisor at the NIAAA, told SELF. "And you do it in a very nonjudgmental, very caring way, and you try to help guide that person to the resources they need if you feel they need some help."

Ultimately, not many people among Louise's nearly 100,000 followers caught on to her drinking problem. "We hoped for more followers to take notice of Louise's behavior,” Xiberras told AdFreak

However, this proves the point of the campaign: that it’s not always easy to tell when someone is struggling with alcoholism.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.