An Estonian expat living in Phuket, Thailand was found dead over the weekend. Phuket News noted that even though 44-year old Artur Mansurov is believed to have died of health problems related to alcoholism
Speculation is rife in the Thai media that a broken heart may have fuelled the almost month-long alcohol binge that led to his death. From their initial investigation, Muang police have discovered Mr Mansurov set up a business, Thai Media Export, with his 25-year-old Russian girlfriend.
But when the Russian went back to her country on May 25th, Mr Mansurov reportedly began drinking heavily, although the exact cause is yet to be confirmed.
Substance abuse is a topic located squarely on the dark side of expatriate life. ExpatHealth.org recently wrote on the UAE’s new plan to combat alcoholism within its borders, and the topic crops up regularly on expatriate websites. In 2009 Escape from America Magazine took an in-depth look at substance abuse among expatriates, concluding
[t]his isn’t surprising given the lifestyle and the many changes inherent in expatriate life: multiple moves, excessive work demands, travelling partners creating ‘single’ moms coping alone in a foreign country, loneliness, loss of self-worth, homesickness, stress, and peer pressure to name a few.
While many expatriates cope with the stress of managing their new lives by throwing themselves into local culture and making new friends, a not-insignificant number turn to drugs and alcohol. The Escape from America article suggested expats are not inherently at risk of developing drug or alcohol problems, but that the pressures associated with expat life have a tendency to exaggerate existing issues, particularly for those with stressful jobs. Expats struggling with addiction face the same social stigma they would in their home countries, and on top of that must contend with foreign treatment systems even if they do decide to seek help.
Unfortunately there is no “quick fix” for expats with drug and alcohol problems. Artur Mansurov’s case is a reminder that seeking help is the first (and often most important) step in the recovery process. Programs such inpatient detox, counselling or groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can be a great help. Like addicts in their home countries, alcoholic expats will get nowhere without a strong personal desire to change.