The Edge of Addiction

Way Out - Dan Edwards

It's hard not to be affected by the continuing, low-grade (and sometimes high-grade) stress that comes from a financial crisis. And it can be hard to tell when escapist escapades go from being recreational to dangerous. A little concerned about your own? Then read on.

Johnny Graaff founded Montrose Place, a luxury rehab retreat in South Africa, and recently opened Cape House in London. The London location is designed to continue the treatment as patrons ease back into their old lives, but not their old habits. He's not at all unfamiliar with addiction himself, and answers our questions with professional and personal expertise.

Social drinking (and drug use), which is prevalent in even the best of times, gets worse when things are bad. What are the signs people can look for - in themselves and in others - that usage is crossing a line?

Drinking is at the centre of social life, especially in the City. The tradition of migrating to the pub after work is part of City life and for many provides a well-needed chance to relax after a hectic day in the office. However, this starts to become an issue when the individual looks toward alcohol as escapism. It is no surprise that alcohol consumption has dramatically increased as a result of the financial crisis; we live in a high-pressured society in which we are pushed to the limit.

Signs individuals and others should look out for, which could mark the difference between casual usage and dependency, include excessive drinking and drug use which leads to impaired functioning in professional and personal spheres, a preoccupation with thoughts of using, usage creeping in earlier in the day, or in isolation and symptoms of physical dependence which become evident through anxiety, depression, irritability and tremors when withdrawing.

People heading for addiction often think they can change their behaviour themselves. At what point is it too late, and they need to seek professional help?

We like to think that we have the capacity to do everything on our own, in both our professional and personal lives. However, an addiction cannot be dealt with in isolation when the individual starts to lose control of their using. Professional help is needed when the addiction starts to produce clear negative consequences to their life, and yet the individual continues to use. The road to rehabilitation is paved with good intentions - the addict wants to stop, but is unable to.

Those who are struggling with addiction are often loath to admit they have a problem. What advice do you have to help them realise they need help?

It is important for the individual to recognise that they need help, but denial is one of the strongest psychological components of addiction. We are at war with ourselves when it comes to addiction and become our own worst enemy. Therefore the person intervening needs to encourage the addict to recognise the impact that drinking or using drugs is having on their life and their significant others' lives. It might be suggested that they weigh up the pros and cons of continuing in the way that they are.

For more information on Montrose Place and Cape House, please click here.

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