Monday, November 12, 2012

Dealing with Addictive Behavior

Because of excessive drinking, smoking, and the internet, many of our Korean youths are finding it difficult to adapt to society, and are knocking on the doors of counseling services. The ever present smart phone has also created problems for them. The View from the Ark columnist of the Catholic Times, who has been working in mass media for over 30 years, points out that drinking and  smoking increased two-fold over what it was two years ago, and in Seoul, internet addiction is the primary reason for seeking the help of counseling services.

The advances that Korea has made in internet and smart phone accessibility has facilitated the addiction. The greatest number of those using the internet are the youth; consequently, this age group has the most problems. One out of three find it more enjoyable to relate to the internet than with others. Twenty to thirty percent of them find the internet interfering with their work; their studies  and relationship not only suffer but there is the failure to distinguish the real from virtual reality. At present, video games are shut down at midnight, and plans are being worked out to have a cooling-off period of 10 minutes after two hours of games--a strategy not accepted by all.

The smart phone is now more of a problem than the internet. Within two years of its introduction, there were over 20 million users. And like the internet addiction, the young are the ones who have the greatest problem with this addiction.

Those who have studied the issue of addiction say depression is a big reason for these addictive behaviors. Not that the addiction brings about depression but because of depression there is a tendency to become attracted to one or more addictive activities. It has been suggested that sports would be a good activity to overcome the addictive activities and relieve the stress most of the young experience in making it in our competitive society, but their studies do not allow for much leisure time. And family and friends are not  sufficiently involved in the life of the young to help them overcome their addictions.

The columnist says the government, schools, churches, and social organizations are trying to help but emphasizes that once addiction takes hold, it's very difficult to overcome. Doing what is necessary before the addiction takes hold would be the approach with the best chance of success. If help is directed to helping our young deal with their stresses and worries they routinely encounter, there will be less need to keep them away from addictive activities.

In this Year of Faith, it's a good time, says the columnist, to see not so much our own level of faith but also to be more concerned about our families and the young people around us. If we can help our young people accept a proper value system and life-nurturing habits, this approach will go a long way to solving the problem of addiction. 

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