More Cantabrians are seeking help for alcohol and drug addiction from post-earthquake life.
Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) figures show on average 669 people are accessing its addiction services each month, up a third from pre-quake levels.
Presentations to the Salvation Army's addiction services drop-in centre have more than doubled - from 400 to 1000 per month.
Use of the City Mission addiction service has jumped 20 per cent in the last year.
Salvation Army addiction services director Sue Hay said some clients had started drinking or using drugs to cope with post-quake stress, and were visiting addiction services with habits that had got out of control.
"After the quakes, we became aware that people were using alcohol and benzodiazepine to settle their anxiety, then discovering after a year or so that they were using more than they'd ever intended."
City Mission alcohol and drug manager Jan Spence said use of its addiction services had climbed steadily since the quakes, but attributed this year's spike to people having "reached their limit".
"Particularly now, in the third year, a lot of people who have coped up until now have realised the stress is getting to them."
A CDHB spokeswoman said the board had upped funding and capacity across the sector, including seven additional full-time workers, and expected to record an increased uptake as a result.
A 42-year-old man who recently completed the Salvation Army residential rehab programme said he began drinking heavily after losing his rental home in the earthquake. "I was so focused on the quake itself, trying to find somewhere to live, my drinking was the last thing on my mind," he said.
"I just focused on the day-to-day trying to get through."
He sought help after realising he could no longer control his drinking.
University of Canterbury clinical psychologist Julia Rucklidge said it was expected people would "self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in order to try and alleviate the distress they're feeling".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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