People using time at home to kick bad habits, overcome addiction
When he lost his visual merchandising job due to Covid-19, Mr Muhammad Farhan found himself short on cash to feed his $200-a-month cigarette addiction.
So he decided to quit smoking, partly also because it was troublesome to do so when he had to wear a mask while outdoors.
But during the first week, the 26-year-old found himself constantly craving a smoke, and was shivering and experiencing migraines.
Still he persevered, and it’s been two months since his last stick in April - the longest break since he started smoking at 15.
Said Mr Farhan: “When I smell smoke now, I feel gross.
“I also breathe better, smell better and feel healthier now.”
Like him, some people are using the time at home during the Covid-19 circuit breaker to beat addiction and bad habits.
Addiction treatment centres said being home has helped these people coping with addiction, with many coming forward to seek help.
We Care Community Services (WCCS) clinical director Tham Yuen Han, 59, said addiction counselling attendance doubled during the circuit breaker.
Clinical lead Andy Leach, 57, from addiction treatment providers The Cabin Group, said that clients who are already receiving treatment also thrived during this period.
“People are stuck at home and most do not face the usual temptations of bars and clubs as they are not open,” he said.
The National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG) said the number of calls related to problem gambling fell from 1,401 in January to 212 in May.
The NCPG spokesman cited a case of a male client in his 30s who had been struggling with gambling addiction for the past 10 years, using the closure of casinos to overcome his addiction. He has not gambled for two months.
But the circuit breaker was not a blessing for all addicts.
For a small group of people, it actually made it worse, treatment groups told The New Paper.
Ms Tham said WCCS had received calls from families whose loved ones were in crisis during the period, including a concerned wife seeking advice to help her husband who compulsively poured money into stock market trading over the past two months.
He lost more than $100,000 in the past few weeks.
Mr Leach said The Cabin Group has also received calls from chronic alcoholics, who found the time alone at home difficult.
He said: “It’s like a pressure cooker. Many are left alone drinking at home, without their usual support other than alcohol to fix themselves.”
Mr Leach cautioned about a surge in mental healthcare issues in a post-Covid-19 world, due to the stress the pandemic has put on so many people.
“The next pandemic after Covid-19 is mental health,” he said.