Most people think of drugs and alcohol when they think of teen addiction. However, the illness of addiction can develop with certain rewarding behaviors as well. For instance, it’s possible for a teen to become addicted to the following five types of behaviors:
Internet: Research indicates that 1.4% to 17.9% of adolescents around the world are addicted to the Internet. However, addictions to Internet use are not as prevalent in the United States as they are in other countries. Typical signs that an adolescent has an Internet addiction include difficulty completing daily tasks, academic performance declining, losing track of time on the Internet, isolation from friends and family, and experiencing euphoria with Internet use.
Gambling: When teens lose their ability to limit their playing and spending habits, an addiction might be setting in. According to YouthGambling.com, 4-7% of teens exhibit gambling addiction behavior, which include enjoying the rush of gambling; using the earnings of a win to stay in the game, versus walking away, and relies on loans from friends and families; doing anything to stay in the game and continue to gamble; focusing on winning big and will continue to play despite continued losses; and playing online, maxing out credit cards, if necessary, to continue to play.
Gaming: This type of addiction is the excessive use of video games. Although it is not currently recognized as a type of addiction, there is a growing movement to formally include this behavior as a type of illness. A few symptoms of gaming addiction include lack of control over gaming behavior, loss of time, negative impact on a teen’s life, hiding from negative or uncomfortable emotions, defensiveness, and difficulty completing tasks. If you find that your teen’s use of video games qualifies as addictive and compulsive, you might want to seek mental health services.
Sex: An addiction with sex includes compulsive behavior where there is a loss of control and an adolescent spends large amounts of time engaging in sexual-related activity to the point where he or she is neglecting social, academic, or familial responsibilities. An addiction to sex includes obsessive thoughts about sex that disrupt functioning at school, home or at the work place; an inability to refrain from viewing pornography or engaging in sexual behavior; and avoiding time with friends or other typical teen activities to instead spend time on the computer or have sexual encounters.
Shopping: This kind of addiction is known as omniomania. Sadly, of all the addictions, it is the most reinforced by the media, advertising, billboards, and consumerism in general. About 6% of the U.S. population has a shopping addiction, which usually begins in late adolescence. A shopping addiction becomes the main way a person might be coping with stress to the point when it becomes excessive, severely affecting finances, relationships, and functioning.
There are various treatment methods for a behavioral addiction that are similar to treating an alcohol or drug addiction. There are also rehabilitative centers that focus strictly on behavioral addictions. If the psychological cycle of highs and lows exist, an addiction might be present which can lead to detrimental consequences. For this reason, seeking assistance from a mental health professional can help break the cycle and facilitate recovery.