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How You Can Help Loved Ones Who Suffer From Behavioural Addiction

When a relative, friend, or partner is grappling with a behavioural addiction, it can be an overwhelming and confusing time for everyone involved. Behavioural addictions – including, but not exhaustive to, online-gaming addiction, shopping addiction, eating addiction, social media addiction, and pornography addiction – have profound impacts not only on the individuals struggling with them but also on those around them. This article aims to offer guidance and support for those seeking to help their loved ones navigate these challenging waters.

How You Can Help Loved Ones Who Suffer From Behavioural Addiction

When a relative, friend, or partner is grappling with a behavioural addiction, it can be an overwhelming and confusing time for everyone involved. Behavioural addictions – including, but not exhaustive to, online-gaming addiction, shopping addiction, eating addiction, social media addiction, and pornography addiction – have profound impacts not only on the individuals struggling with them but also on those around them. This article aims to offer guidance and support for those seeking to help their loved ones navigate these challenging waters.


Understanding Behavioural Addiction


Before diving into support strategies, it is crucial to understand what behavioural addiction is. Unlike substance abuse, behavioural addictions involve compulsive engagement in rewarding non-substance-related behaviour, despite adverse consequences. Recognising signs of problematic behaviour like excessive screen time, shopping, or gaming is the first step in addressing these issues.


The Role of a Relative, Friend, or Partner


As a relative, friend, or partner, your role is vital in the recovery process. While you cannot control the addict's behaviour, your support and understanding can make a significant difference. Start by educating yourself about the specific addiction, whether it's online-gaming, or binge eating, to better understand the challenges your loved one faces.


Establishing Open Communication


Open and non-judgmental communication is key. Encourage discussions about their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. This approach fosters trust and understanding, making it easier for the addicted person to share their struggles and seek help.


Setting Healthy Boundaries


While offering support, it’s important to set healthy boundaries to avoid enabling the addictive behaviour. This might involve limiting money lent for shopping or setting rules around screen time in the home. Boundaries help in defining a supportive yet firm approach to dealing with the addiction.


Encouraging Professional Help and Self-Help Groups


Encourage your loved one to seek professional help. Therapists specialised in behavioural addictions can offer tailored approaches. Additionally, self-help groups provide a community of individuals facing similar challenges, offering a sense of belonging and understanding.


Involvement in Alternative Activities


Reducing screen time or curbing other addictive behaviours can leave a void. Help your loved one fill this space with healthier activities. Engaging in hobbies, sports, or social activities together can provide motivation and a positive focus away from the addiction.


Support for Parents of Addicted Teenagers


If you are a parent dealing with a teenager's addiction it is important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to these addictions due to social pressures and developmental factors. Providing guidance while respecting their independence can be a delicate balance but is crucial in helping them overcome their addiction.


Additional Tips for Supporters

  • Educate Yourself: Learn about the specific behavioural addiction. This knowledge can help you to better sympathise with the person affected. It can also help you understand triggers and signs of relapse in future.
  • Listen Actively: Sometimes, just being there to listen can be incredibly supportive. Active listening involves giving your full attention and acknowledging their feelings.
  • Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Changes: Promote a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, which can have a positive impact on mental health.
  • Practice Patience: Recovery is a process that takes time. Be patient and celebrate small victories along the way.
  • Avoid Blame and Judgement: Addiction is a complex issue. Avoid blaming or shaming your loved one, as it can hinder their progress.
  • Seek Family Therapy: Consider engaging in family therapy. It can provide a platform for open communication and help resolve underlying issues.
  • Promote Digital Detoxes: Encourage periods where digital devices are voluntarily set aside to focus on real-life interactions and activities.


The Importance of Self-Care for Supporters


While supporting someone with an addiction, do not neglect your own well-being. Take time for yourself, engage in activities that do you well. Consider joining self-help groups for relatives and friends of addicts. Keep in mind that your support is most valuable when you yourself are in a good place.


Conclusion: A Journey of Mutual Growth and Support


Helping someone with a behavioural addiction is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and love. By staying informed, establishing open communication, setting boundaries, encouraging professional help, and taking care of your own well-being, you can provide significant support. Remember, recovery is a process, and with your help, your loved one can work towards overcoming their addiction.

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