Parents are often concerned about alcohol and drug addictions, but in fact, people can develop fixations on things other than intoxicating substances. Teens can take an obsessive involvement in certain activities such as gambling, Internet use, video games and eating; this is known as process addiction (or behavioral addiction). Those who engage in this sort of compulsive behavior may do so to enjoy the short-term reward despite risking a serious consequence such as poor school grades or job loss.
Below are six tips you can use to help your teen if they suffer from a process addiction.
Remove Access to the Activity
It’s much easier to cope with a process addiction if you remove access to the activity. For example, if your teen has an unhealthy obsession with eating, keep your pantry free of junk food. Or if your teen is addicted to video games, remove all gaming consoles from your home and restrict their time spent on the computer. For some processes, this can be a little more difficult; a teen with an Internet addiction may still need to use their desktop or laptop for schoolwork. But you can limit their online activities by blocking access to social media on their computer.
Develop Stress Management Tools
Stress management and mindfulness are great ways to help with a process addiction craving. Activities such as yoga, meditation and even knitting may help prevent your teen from engaging in their process addiction; they’ll feel more relaxed and less likely to turn to a disruptive activity to cope with stress or anxiety.
Replace the Process With Alternative Activities
When your teen feels tempted to engage in their process addiction, they can instead turn to a list of alternate activities. Some options may include going for a hike, taking up a sport or trying a new recipe. Creating a list ahead of time will help them cope better when they’re struggling with pressures.
Provide an Accountability Partner
Having a loved one that understands their process addiction can be a great coping tool for your teen. Knowing that they have someone to stay accountable to and who will check in with them may deter your teen from indulging in their addiction. You can serve this role and enlist any of their friends or another family member to help out when you’re not around to keep an eye on your teen’s behavior.
Recognize Their Triggers
Knowing what triggers your teen can help them reduce their desire to engage in their addiction. For example, if your teen tends to relapse when they’re tired, encourage them to go to bed by a certain time each night. If hunger sets them off, make sure your teen always brings a healthy lunch and snack to school with them.
Contact a Health Professional
If you haven’t already consulted with a doctor or counselor, you may want to make an appointment. A doctor can recommend different therapies to help treat your teen’s process addiction; you can discuss other options for coping as well. No matter the addiction, professional help is always available for your teen.
Feature Photo: Piotr Lohunko