Behavioral addictions – this term can be increasingly heard in the media or read on various forums. What is a behavioral addiction? What effects can it have?
Just a few years ago the biggest concern for the parents of a teenager was the fear that he or she would turn to drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana. Now, more and more often we are dealing with behavioral addictions – simply put, addictions to activities. These addictions can also occur in adults, but as many studies have shown, behavioral addictions are more likely to affect young people, who are vulnerable to the influence of their environment and peers.
Types of behavioural addictions
It is difficult to have a complete list of addictions that can be listed here. Nevertheless, behavioral addictions primarily include:
- Internet addiction;
- Cell phone addiction;
- Computer game addiction;
- Pornography addiction;
The list of addictions to activities, drives is constantly growing. Nowadays behavioral addictions include: addiction to payment cards, addiction to sex, excessive care for one’s body through numerous exercises and physical exertion, high-protein diet, or use of anabolic steroids (in the terminology-bigorexia). Also on the list is an excessive focus on healthy eating (in the terminology-orthorexia), addiction to tanning and tanning beds (in the terminology-tanorexia). Increasingly, addiction to plastic surgery or aesthetic medicine is also mentioned.
These behaviors are treated as compulsive, which a person cannot control, and which at the same time have a negative impact on the functioning of the body. These behaviors do not give happiness, but they relieve internal tension and bad mood. Behavioral addictions can be classified as psychological, non-substance addictions. The fact that the boundary has been crossed is indicated by the high demand and also the frequency of the activity.
The borderline between normality and behavioural addiction is very difficult, because many of them are considered not threatening for the person and at the same time are accepted by the society. We are talking here about workaholism, for example.
What are the signs of behavioral addiction?
Behavioural addictions are not very different from so called traditional addictions. What characteristics can be attributed to non-substance addictions?
- Continuation of harmful behaviors despite the harm they cause;
- Neglect of other activities, including sources of pleasure;
- A strong desire to engage in a particular activity.
Interestingly, although the symptoms of behavioral addictions are consistent with those of other addictions, such as psychoactive drug use, they are not officially recognized as addictions. Why? There is a lack of larger research on how eating or shopping qualify as addictions. However, many researchers and scientists are constantly conducting numerous experiments and experiments to study and gain a deeper understanding of behavioral addictions. Of the mentioned activity addictions, only gambling is included in the international classification of mental disorders. However, not as an addiction, but as a pathological behavior.
How can I recognize a child/teenager with an addiction?
The main symptom of an addiction to activities such as computer games is when the child spends a large part of his or her free time playing. In addition they react aggressively and nervously when a parent wants to interrupt them. The child gives up on personal contact with friends and peers, and also develops problems with sleeping or eating.
The line between what is a hobby and what is an addiction is a very fine one. Constant observation and a close relationship between the child and parent can help classify this.
Prevention of behavioral addiction treatment
As with other addictions or diseases, prevention is important here as well. When a child, adolescent is struggling with an activity addiction, special emphasis should be placed on:
- Learning how to react and deal with emotions and stress, while building stable self-esteem and self-worth;
- Decision making and problem solving, including learning about healthy leisure activities;
- Maintaining close relationships with people, building assertive responses in situations of tension, pressure.
As many scientific researches indicate, in the treatment of behavioral addictions both among children, adolescents and adults, the most effective is the research-cognitive method, as well as motivational dialogue. Alarming statistics show that every year there are new cases of the disease. That is why it is so important to undertake prophylactic and informative-educational actions, which concern mechanisms of addiction, its symptoms and phases as well as consequences which are connected with behavioral addiction.
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