New hotline for addicts goes beyond drugs and gambling problems

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong's first all-in-one counselling hotline for people with a variety of addictions opened yesterday.

People with drug, alcohol, gambling, eating, sex, shopping and internet addictions can seek counselling via the hotline provided by the Hong Kong Caritas Family Service.

Paulina Kwok Chi-ying, a social worker with the Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre, said Hong Kong did not offer help for shopping, internet and binge-eating addicts, although they were common in the city.

'Those addicts could hardly seek appropriate service from local service centres before,' said Ms Kwok.

'The new counselling hotline aims at providing a convenient way for people who have different addictive behaviours to seek professional service.'

Ms Kwok said callers would get immediate counselling and a preliminary assessment. The hotline was prompted by a Caritas survey of the consequences of addictions.

It polled 198 of its addict clients between April and August last year, finding that more than half had suffered deteriorations in health, family relationships and workplace and school performance.

About 25 per cent said they had broken laws to satisfy their addictions and 16 per cent had attempted suicide.

Josephine Li Kwai-yi, a clinical psychologist at the crisis support centre, said: 'The long-term negative consequences of an addiction greatly outweigh its benefits, which are mostly short-lived.'

She encouraged addicts to use the hotline number on 3904 3098.