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Dependency & addiction rise seen unfolding during COVID

Dependency & addiction rise seen unfolding during COVID

Recovery852 & Zanolife • Mar 03, 2021
Addiction is a taboo topic, and something that more and more of us every day are coming into contact with in our personal, family and professional lives. Dependency comes in more forms than many of us are aware of, which is why it can be so elusive. There are substance addictions to illegal drugs, sleeping pills, alcohol or legal prescription drugs, but also process addictions to things like gaming, sex, dating apps, shopping, stockbroking apps, social media etc. Some of us may suffer dependencies but not consider it an issue because they don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

Addiction and dependency are on the rise in lockstep with the growing mental health crisis affecting many around the world. Never before have we had such ease of access to such a wide range of things which one can be addicted to. And this against a backdrop of a pandemic that is causing global lockdowns, financial woes, stress, uncertainty and unparalleled loneliness for many; all factors that can drive us to dependency.

This month, in acknowledgement of this worsening situation, the Zanolife Blog spoke to our friend and wellbeing partner Grant Sanders, founder of Recovery852, which offers addiction recovery services. We discussed addiction and dependency issues in ourselves, our loved ones and colleagues. We learned how some dependency issues are almost "accepted" and what to do in the face of addiction in ourselves or others.



Q1: Zanolife Blog (ZB) - What is addiction?

Grant Sanders (GS) - Addiction is a cunning enemy of life. People lose careers, relationships, finances, and health, to name only a few. Addictions all offer escape and relief from stress, peer pressure, worry, and boredom; however, this is temporary, and over time the addiction becomes progressive. There is much stigma attached to addiction, and this prevents people from asking for help. Addiction affects people across class, race, religion, creed, sex, and ethnicity. According to addiction and drugs writer Johann Hari, addiction is about connection; essentially, people seek these connections using substances or acting out with their process addictions. Addiction is a complex psychological and physiological process; there is no cure for addiction, but recovery is most certainly possible.



Q2: (ZB) - Are drug and alcohol problems the only real addictions?

(GS) - Every addiction is real, whether it be substance abuse or process addictions like sex, food, and gambling. People are addicted to smartphones, games, pornography, shopping, and electronic trading of stocks, so drugs and alcohol are not the only addictions.

We live in a world where everything is on-demand. Many people seek instant gratification or escape, leading to individuals becoming dependent or reliant on any of these activities. Denial and justification are two significant obstacles in addiction, most notably process addictions simply because they are widely accepted; it is what people do. People have sex, shop, gamble, whether in Macau, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, or electronic through trading of stocks. Many people are obsessed and end up spending more time and money on these habits, which ultimately leads to problems in their lives. It is not so much what they do or how much of it they do, but instead, it is their relationship and thinking with the acting out that is the problem.

Q3: (ZB) - What are the main types of addiction or dependency we see in Hong Kong?

(GS) - Substance abuse has traditionally been the primary type of addiction that we have seen in Hong Kong. Cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, sleeping pills, marijuana, ketamine, and heroin are most common. However, there has been a significant rise in people seeking sex and gambling addiction, primarily trading stocks on apps and online during the last two years. Dating and trading apps and websites that offer sexual services provide people with instant accessibility and the opportunity to escape and act out. There seems to be a growing problem in Hong Kong; many people suffer in silence and are reluctant to reach out for help. Shame and embarrassment are two main reasons the addiction progresses; it gets out of control and seriously affects their work and relationships; they typically ask for help when they hit rock bottom.



Q4: (ZB) - What impact is COVID-19 having on the types and volume of addiction we are seeing in Hong Kong?

(GS) - The pandemic has undoubtedly made people reflect and look at themselves; the stress of being laid off or going through some crisis, whether health, relationships, or finances, has caused people to reach out. Many are consuming more alcohol and using more substances wishing to escape life pressures or boredom. Globally, markets have become more volatile and unpredictable. Many people lose money; the problem is they borrow to make up for losses incurred, and many end up getting entangled in a vicious cycle of debt that spirals out of control quickly. We - Recovery852 - have seen a rise in people seeking help in the Q3 and Q4 of 2020, carried over into 2021.

Q5: (ZB) - How do you spot signs of potential addition in yourself, your loved ones or colleagues?

(GS) - Essential questions to ask oneself include; are you taking larger amounts over a more extended period than was intended? Have you found that there has been a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control the use of the substance or spend less money and time in the case of process addictions? Are you experiencing a strong desire to act out or use a substance despite knowing the internal and external consequences? Are you lying to your partner about where you go and whom you have seen? Of course, there numerous other relevant questions, but I am sure readers get the idea.

When it comes to loved ones and colleagues, it is essential to look for patterns in behaviour and attitude; if they are addicted, signs and patterns will emerge. People are creatures of habit, and addiction causes people to behave or act differently. Other things to look out for are absences from work, secretive behaviour, avoidance, and anxiety. Warning signs include; growing isolation; violence when drinking; excuse-making to justify the habit – eg drinking because you are sad, drinking because you are happy, drinking to celebrate or to commiserate… there is always a reason; minimizing or playing down the personal consequences related to one' drinking or drug use. Physical symptoms include sweating at abnormal times; shaking in the morning; drugs-blocked sinuses; and a bleeding nose. These are clear physical indicators of substance abuse.



Q6: (ZB) - What are some things we can do or steps we can take if we spot these in ourselves or others?
(GS) - The first step is to acknowledge there is a problem, and the next step is to get in touch with Recovery852. We offer a 6-week Recovery Wellness Programme and Recovery Coaching; we also do interventions for significant others to help people get the assistance they need. However, for the invention to be successful, the timing needs to be right; the best time to approach an individual is when they have just to sobered up or when they have come off a drug binge. When it comes to substance abuse, both research and experience have shown that it is best not to confront a person while they are intoxicated as this could be potentially dangerous. There is help out there, and Recovery852 has helped people find a new way of living free from the compulsion to act out in their addiction.

Q7: (ZB) - What are some things to avoid doing or saying if we think someone we know may be suffering from addiction or heading down a path of dependency?
(GS) - Again, it would be wise to refrain from confronting a person while they are intoxicated; this can lead to violence and even suicide, so it is best not to do that. Another thing that significant others do is enable people who struggle with addiction; this only prolongs the suffering.

Borrowing money is also not advised; unfortunately, many people can be easily manipulated and pressured to giving money; this should be avoided. An intervention can be arranged as a non-family member should discuss options with the person suffering from addiction; if this is not possible, write a letter outlining your concerns and include a contact number or email. It is essential to talk to someone when they are sobering up or hit rock bottom. Also, avoid talking down to someone who is suffering addiction or heading down a dependency path, and taking a moral high ground can cause issues.

For more on addiction and dependency and how to tackle these important issues contact Recovery852:



Tel: +852 9737 7610
Email: [email protected] OR [email protected]
Website: www.recovery852.com
Address: 2/F Eton Tower 8 Hysan Avenue Causeway Bay Hong Kong

For more details, please contact [email protected]