Behavioral research states that anything stimulating to a person can become an addiction. Therefore, in the same way that teens can become addicted to substances, they can also become addicted to behaviors. The general qualification of behavioral addiction is when certain behaviors become compulsions rather than habitual. In other words, teens have lost the ability to choose whether or not they carry out the behavior. To this end, teens not only are unable to control whether or not they do the behavior but also the frequency of which they repeat it. This lack of control can become a vulnerability with regard to putting teens in dangerous situations. Some examples of common behavioral addictions include: pornography, internet, gaming, and gambling. It’s also important to note that it’s very common for Teen Behavioral Addictions to be present as Co-Occurring Disorders, along with things such as Anxiety and Depression.
The most dominating characteristic of Teen Behavioral Addictions are the repetitive, persistent behaviors that teens carry out impulsively. These behaviors often provide the teens with some sort of short-lived feelings of happiness or relief, which serves as the reward they’re unconsciously seeking, by carrying out the behavior. Teens will continue to do these behaviors, regardless of negative consequences or effects. Even in instances where teens are aware of the negative effects the behaviors are having in their lives, they’re still unable to change or stop the behaviors.
Because Teen Behavioral Addictions are often present as Co-Occurring Disorders, sometimes the teens may start the behaviors as a way of seeking relief from other negative symptoms of anxiety, depression, or stress. However, similar to substance abuse, teens can begin to rely too heavily upon this relief and over time, can develop an unhealthy reliance on that tactic, which gradually leads to the addiction.
Regardless of the specific behavior that teens are addicted to, one of the most important aspects of teen behavioral addictions treatment is for therapists to ensure that teens not only address the outward aspects of behaviors and addiction, but the underlying emotional stressors and factors at play. Because it’s common for teens with Behavioral Addictions to also suffer from Anxiety and/or Depression, they must work with therapists on evaluating these symptoms, in order to address the root cause of their behaviors. Therapists may help teens to address these conditions through a number of different tactics and approaches, including more traditional talk-therapy based sessions as well as more Experimental art-based and/or experience-based therapy. The overall goal of teen behavioral addictions treatment is that as therapists help teens to recognize and observe the causes and patterns of stress, anxiety, and behaviors in their lives, they can begin to gain insight as to the cause-and-effect relationships at play. Over time then, as teens learn ways to reduce their stress and address their anxiety in more a healthier manner, they will also regain power of their behaviors and therefore, their lives.
Paradigm New York:
Paradigm New York is a holistic-minded residential treatment center for adolescents, located in Westchester, New York. Located just a short distance from New York City, Paradigm New York is a leader in adolescent treatment and specializes in creating highly unique, individualized treatment plans that support teens to make lasting changes in their lives.