Hong Kong Based Addiction Counselling Services
The decision to come to therapy for an addiction is always a difficult one, it is an often quoted phrase that “admitting you have a problem is the first step”, and never is this more true than in the case of the treatment for addiction. Addiction is commonly thought of as drug or alcohol dependency but it can come in many different forms. Some of the most common are listed down below, this list is not exhaustive however, and there are many others that might affect you or a loved one:
- Drugs (both prescription and recreational)
- Internet browsing/online gaming
- Food (can be in the form of both restrictive food patterns and binge eating)
The majority of the above can be indulged in without becoming an “addiction”. But what happens if something seemingly fun and harmless such as shopping, going for a run or enjoying a glass of wine with friends, becomes something more dysfunctional?
The key point here is “function”- if the compulsion to use a substance or partake in an activity begins to prevent you from “functioning” at what would widely be considered a normal level, then it may be possible that you have an addiction. If for example you regularly drink (once a week or more) to the point of “blackouts” or memory loss, or if your shopping habit has racked up insurmountable debt, or your internet use is preventing normal, healthy sleep patterns- this might be considered dysfunctional. If you begin to forgo social invitations for events you may have previously enjoyed to perform activities such as online gaming or gambling, or if you are regularly exercising to the point of vomiting, or if your “diet” prevents you from enjoying normal social activities- this may be considered dysfunctional.
Not all of the above currently exist as diagnosable conditions in the DSM V (2013), but particularly in the case of more “modern phenomena” addictions such as internet and gaming addictions, there is now movement for the introduction of these, as a diagnosable disorder. There has been discussion around the growing prevalence of internet addiction in Asia in particular, and one study (Zhang, Amos, McDowell: 2008) claims that it has a much higher prevalence here than in the United States or other comparable economic regions. Studies have shown that in adolescents this addiction may result in increased hostility and aggressive behaviors (Ko, Chen, Liu.2009), and (Ko, Chen, Chen, 2009), amongst other more common behavioral patterns in addiction. Whilst this addiction is considered relatively “new”, it can still be treated with the same methodologies as other more publicized addictions.
Addictions have differing effects depending on the nature of the substance, or the activity to which the sufferer becomes addicted, but in a wider sense the following behaviors may be observed:
- Lying or “covering up” the extent of the addiction. Falsifying stories to “justify” addictive behavioural patterns
- Stealing (if the addiction requires money to supplement it)
- Missing work or social commitments in order to indulge in a particular activity
- Losing track of time whilst performing an activity such as gambling or online gaming
- Experiencing a “high” whilst partaking in an activity or substance
- Finding it difficult to stop using the substance or activity even if it is negatively effecting other areas of your life
- Work colleagues or loved ones have expressed concerns about your behavior
- Denial that your behaviour is having any negative effect on you
- Depression or general feelings of low self-worth
- Aggression, particularly when faced with situations where you cannot feed the “addiction”, or when challenged about your addiction
- Becoming more reclusive or spending time only with other like-minded people who indulge your addiction
- Obsessive thinking about the activity or substance
Help is however available and Alison offers addiction counseling services using a wide variety of treatment methods including CBT, interpersonal counselling, and creative therapy to help you overcome whatever you may be facing. There may be certain scenarios where outside assistance may be required to manage the physical effects of addiction- such as in the case of substance or alcohol addiction, and Alison can talk these through with you. The primary focus is always on your physical and emotional wellbeing and Alison will guide you through the process to help you get the support and assistance you need.
For more information about addiction counselling services in Hong Kong,please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
1. Zhang L, Amos C, McDowell WC. A comparative study of Internet addiction between the United States and China. Cyberpsychol Behav. 2008;11:727–729
2. Ko CH, Yen JY, Chen CS. Predictive values of psychiatric symptoms for Internet addiction in adolescents: a 2-year prospective study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163:937–943. [PubMed]
3. . Ko CH, Yen JY, Liu SC. The associations between aggressive behaviors and Internet addiction and online activities in adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2009;44:598–605.