Interview with Jesse Hanson on Newstalk 1010

Jesse Hanson talks to Newstalk 1010 about drug, alcohol and digital addictions. Listen to the interview or read the script below.

We sort of joke sometimes that oh, oh I’m so addicted to having my phone or the internet. It actually can be a real addiction. So I’ve got Jesse Hanson on the line, Clinical Director of Helix Healthcare Group. Hi Jesse. Hi, how are you?

I’m doing well. And you know, I joke about it all the time. I’m kind of addicted to Twitter, or Instagram or people will say they can’t live without Facebook. So, how do you tell the difference between a hobby, maybe one that we spend a little too much time on, and an actual addiction? Yes, so I’m going to draw clinical knowledge and look at the difference of using, abusing and dependency. And basically, we are looking at the difference of am I doing something in a way that serves my growth and helps me get to the next best version of who I am? Or am I doing it in a way that is maladaptive, that is keeping me from moving into the next best version of myself, and in a way that I, you know hearing you speak, I appreciate your honesty and your humbleness in that, and the need vs. the want. If it’s a want I would put it in a more healthy, productive, and if it’s a need, I would put in a, maybe I ought to check in with what’s going on with myself at a deeper level to understand why I need this so much. And, real quick, just to say that this is the same philosophy I would hold true whether you are dealing with a digital addiction, or with heroin, coke, alcohol, any other substance or the more common ways that people use the word addiction.

“Am I doing something in a way that serves my growth and helps me get to the next best version of who I am? Or am I doing it in a way that is maladaptive, that is keeping me from moving into the next best version of myself?”


Well, what are some tips or signs that someone might actually be addicted to the internet. I would assume that people might take this addiction a little more lightly, than something like alcohol or drugs, because it doesn’t seem as harmful to them physically. But, I know that you sent along some signs of people that would be addicted and I’m just wondering if you can go over that. Yes, no definitely, it’s interesting that this is arising. The digital addiction versus the more common ways of addictions being used and I would say that, you kept saying the word ‘connection’, and having worked with thousands of people in the addiction field with more of the traditional drug addiction issues, that is the common theme amongst everyone that I’ve worked with. There’s an issue with feeling connected. Connected to self, connected to life, connected to other people. So one thing I would bring into inquiry, is, am I drawing more sense of connection from my digital media forums, or am I able to get more connection from real life, person to person, sort of the 3-dimensional world as opposed to the 2-dimensional world of the digital world.

“Am I able to get more connection from real life, person to person, sort of the 3-dimensional world, as opposed to the 2-dimensional world of the digital world?”


Now, let’s say someone is listening who has someone close to them that they think might be bordering on an addiction problem with their phone of their computer and they need to be online all the time. How do you approach the problem? Chances are that the person that might have the problem doesn’t think they have an issue whatsoever. I find that the number one bridge to reach someone, whether, again, you are dealing drugs or alcohol, or in this case, digital addiction, is compassion. It’s having a compassionate attitude of understanding that for whatever reason, whether I as a loved one understand it or not, this person is turning to drugs or alcohol or digital media because they’re not quite sure how to connect otherwise. I would have a very compassionate attitude and a way of addressing it in a way that really honours that for any of us, if we’re avoiding intimacy, avoiding relationships, avoiding connections, or for example, we’re more concerned about our Facebook friends than our real friends, there’s something going on underneath the covers, where there’s a challenge with becoming intimate and vulnerable.

“The number one bridge to reach someone, whether again your dealing with drugs, or alcohol or in this case digital addiction, is compassion.”


Now, is this something that parents should be more aware of? Because I didn’t grow up in the digital age, Facebook didn’t exist when I was a kid, but the generation now is growing up with computers and social media, and that’s just all they know as normal. So what should parents look out for, in terms of their kids? The theme is disconnection that could arise as not being very present, at for example the family dinner table, rushing to get back online. And you mentioned maybe its not the same as drugs and alcohol, physical symptoms, but if someone is online all the time or constantly typing, looking at the phone, the computer, there are issues that go on, into posture, with shoulder and neck tension, there are issues that even could arise with the eyes. There are actually physical symptoms where you can notice a certain posture where a person has a concave chest, a way that the eyes may be constantly looking or searching for something, as opposed to the eyes that are comfortably set into the head of the person. So there are little signs like that physically, but again, I think the biggest element is I don’t feel like I can connect to this person, this person is so driven towards their digital friends, and think about it, Facebook is so safe to be friends on, because it’s like “well I only click send if I want to click send.” Or “I only post the pictures I want people to see me in. They don’t have to see me when I’m sad or lonely.” And for some people I think they can create the life that they wish they had. Well said. I agree. There’s a masking feature to the digital world. It’s beautiful in one-way and sad in another. And my wish for everyone, and I like you being honest, you know especially launching this new center in Yorkville, I’ve been on digital media things, I’ve been on E-talk lately, Sirius XM radio, there is a way in which I can see it can serve the growth and the evolution of a being, and it can also, limit and reduce it, and create a way in which I care more about my digital life than I do my real life, and that’s where I would say there’s a red flag.

All right, well thank-you so much Jesse. Really appreciate it, thanks for your time. Definitely. Jesse Hanson, The Clinical Director of Helix Healthcare Group, they just opened up in Yorkville, if you want to find out more info their website is