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Addictions in the Digital Age: Technology – The Accelerator of both the Problem and the Solution

Addictions in the Digital Age: Technology – The Accelerator of both the Problem and the Solution

Written by: Andrew da Roza, Addictions Therapist, Sex Addiction Specialist

Ever since people first crushed and fermented grapes, the dark hand of alcoholism has been present. When the first games of chance and competition were born – so too was the addiction to gambling.  

We can well imagine that abusing cannabis came, even as it was used for medicinal and religious purposes in the 3rd millennium BC. 

And breathing in the toxic smoke from burning tobacco was a daily human habit, well before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492 and brought it back to Europe. 

But now, in our digital age, technology has accelerated our addictions.

And the stress and isolation brought to us by COVID-19 have pushed many to addictions they never thought they had.  

Alcohol and cigarettes can be delivered to our doors from digital orders placed on mobile phones. The Dark Web and chemistry have conspired to create hazardous new psychoactive substances that pose as cannabis, available with a few keystrokes on a laptop. An Internet poker or roulette game can be found 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The Internet has sped us down the path of over-shopping, over-eating, and over-playing competitive games.

Ever adaptable and flexible, the Internet has even created new addictions – such as Internet pornography and anonymous sex “dating”. 

If we are unlucky enough to fall down these digital “rabbit holes”, what are the results? Alice’s Wonderland? Or: failing health and finances; anxiety; depression; isolation, fractious and failing relationships, lost schooling and jobs; self-harm; and suicidal thoughts. “Jails, institutions and death” – as Alcoholics Anonymous warn us. A life without meaning, purpose or dignity.

But just as addictions have been accelerated by technology and new ones invented, technology has also enabled us to make recovery more convenient, available, cheaper, effective, and timely. 

The longest journey for people suffering from addictions has been from the “bottle” to the therapy room. Any number of “barriers” stood in the way. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough knowledge of which therapist to see or what recovery involves. 

But the biggest barrier of all to entering recovery was shame.

Now, therapy can be done on the Internet: information about therapists can be Googled; prices compared; social service agencies offering low-cost therapy or even free therapy can be found, and rich information and video testimonies on the recovery journey can be reviewed.  

Best of all, Zoom therapy can be conducted with a therapist “once removed” from the personal space of the client by computer screens – and in the comfort of the client’s own living room or bedroom. Clients could even maintain much of their anonymity. In this safe space, shame may deign to take a back seat.

With digital recovery free from barriers, even if the sufferer is still reluctant to seek help, they may be more inclined to reflect on why they remain reluctant to get and receive help. If they do start to reflect honestly – they have started their first step on their recovery journey. 

But more can be done with digital recovery. 

I would submit that the next significant step in using the Internet to accelerate recovery is to bring the therapist to the clients where they are – on the sites that feed their addictions and perpetuate their suffering.

A therapist could join as a “player” in Animal Crossing, Fornite, a poker or roulette game. They can then engage suffering players in unthreatening and therapeutic conversations. Perhaps PornHub will produce an avatar “ambassador” – a therapist who guides users through a porn compulsiveness assessment? Perhaps the GrabEats avatar therapist will help customers with alcohol and calorie counts, consumption and portion control, alcohol use and dietary information – and motivational conversations to help customers build their resolve.     

Engaging suffering people in their digital space opens a whole new avenue for the helping professional to guide someone towards a path of meaning and purpose.

Therapists may wish to think “Digital” – and harness the power of technology to enrich people’s lives – even if technology can also impoverish them. 


Photo by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

What if I am addicted to more than one thing? I can’t stop them all at once!

What if I am addicted to more than one thing? I can’t stop them all at once!

Promises Healthcare Singapore addiction
It is common to have more than one addiction. Many compulsive drinkers tend to be heavy smokers and coffee drinkers. Compulsive drinkers may also drink to bolster their courage that allow them to be the “life of the party” where they can be hooked into engaging in risky sexual behaviours and onto paid sex as well.

Drug users often abuse a variety of drugs. This may include alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. The use of drugs produces a pleasurable effect and when coupled with other substances or behaviours (e.g Sex, Gambling) – it creates a stronger pleasurable effect in which experts believe affect the reward centers in the brain. Casinos have long figured out that offering alcohol (officially) and paid sex (unofficially) is good for enhancing and maintaining gambling behaviour. This creates a destructive pattern that results in a downward spiral where one’s finances begin to dry up. Relationships begin to fracture and life descends into chaos.

If this is becoming a pattern in your life, professional addictions counseling can offer recovery solutions that are effective for individuals who are using multiple substances and behaviors. These solutions to addictions can work together and support each other. Break the vicious cycle today and live free from addictions.

At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery. Discover a new life, away from addiction and find renewed hope. Please contact our clinic or inquiries and consultations.

Written by: Andrew da Roza, Therapist, Promises Healthcare Pte Ltd

Addiction – How to deal with triggers, urges, and cravings

Addiction – How to deal with triggers, urges, and cravings

Promises Healthcare Singapore

If you have compelling, irresistible cravings to drink, smoke, use drugs and gamble, which leads to behaviors that is destructive to yourself and others, you can seek help from a professional counselor for addiction treatment.

They can offer you tools and techniques to deal with urges and cravings. One powerful practice that has been shown by several studies to reduce urges and cravings is mindfulness. Mindfulness allows you to control your cravings by noticing in the moment what is arising in your thoughts, emotions and body. By being in the moment with your cravings and not being subsumed by them or reacting to them, the craving will fade away. Do you have difficulties in controlling your urges and cravings? Do you feel that you have no control over your life and that the cravings are controlling you?

At Promises, we have skilled, compassionate counsellors that can help you overcome your cravings through the practice of mindfulness and various techniques. At Promises Healthcare, we are committed to helping you through your journey to recovery.

Discover a new life, away from addiction and find renewed hope. Please contact our clinic for inquiries and consultations.

Written by: Andrew da Roza, Therapist and sex addiction specialist, Promises Healthcare