Young Adult and Teen Behavioral Issues

Do you often feel angry or stressed? What about obsessive with certain things? Living with a behavioral disorder or addiction can be overwhelming, but stability is possible.

What are behavioral disorders or addictions?

Behavioral issues are defined by a pattern of disruptive behaviors that can cause problems in school, at work, and in social situations. Most teens act out or have moments they’re not proud of—but when behavior is severe, persistent over time, and uncommon for a person’s age, then it might be related to a diagnosable behavior disorder.

Several examples of behavioral disorders seen in children and teens are:

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

A common disorder that causes hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and/or trouble paying attention.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Mostly diagnosed during childhood, this disorder is defined by defiant and disobedient behavior toward authority figures.

Conduct disorder (CD)

Also primarily diagnosed in children and teens, this disorder marks an ongoing pattern of aggression and disobeying rules and social norms. 


Another category of behavioral issues seen in teens is behavioral addiction. This is when a person is addicted to a certain behavior or to the feeling they get from that action. Gambling and drug abuse are common behavioral addictions, but it can even be something as mundane as browsing the internet. With this type of behavioral issue, a person continues to engage in the behavior in order to experience a high—regardless of consequences.

Types of Young Adult & Teen Behavioral Issues & Addictions


Codependency is when a person is mentally, emotionally, and/or physically dependent on a person that they’re in a relationship with. Codependency often exists with romantic partners, but can occur in family relationships or platonic relationships with friends as well. 

Codependent relationships tend to be unhealthy and even emotionally harmful for one or both people involved. Usually there's an imbalance of power, meaning that one person ends up sacrificing their own needs for the sake of the other.

Signs of codependency include:

  • Having an unhealthy dependency on a relationship
  • Difficulty making decisions in a relationship
  • Difficulty communicating in a relationship
  • Difficulty identifying and expressing feelings
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Need for approval
teen ignoring her mom and texting her boyfriend

Relationship addiction

Relationship addiction is when a person feels that they cannot function without a romantic partnership. People with this type of addiction devote an unhealthy amount of time to finding a relationship, being in a relationship, ending one relationship for another, or even juggling multiple relationships at once. 

Addictive relationships have been shown to cause stress, reduce self-esteem, encourage risky behaviors, and prevent a person from living a fulfilling life.

Signs of relationship addiction include:

  • Constantly breaking up and making up
  • Using sex to fix the relationship
  • Having no life outside of the relationship
  • Being too dependent on your partner and the relationship
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Feeling tired, confused, irritable, or insecure

Sex addiction

Sex addiction is defined as an inability to control sexual fantasies, urges, and impulses. Similar to other addictions, this compulsion is difficult to manage without treatment and can have negative effects on your health, academic performance, and relationships.

Signs of sex addiction include:

  • Being obsessed with sex/having obtrusive thoughts about sex
  • Engaging in risky and reckless sexual activity (i.e. sex without proper protection)
  • Watching porn or masturbating frequently enough to disrupt normal day-to-day routines

When is it time to find help?

Even if a person’s behavior seems innocent to start with, their actions can still develop into a disorder or addiction with serious mental health consequences. If you think that you might benefit from professional support but you're not sure if it’s necessary, consider the following questions. 

  • When did this behavior start?
  • How long has this behavior lasted?
  • How does my behavior affect those around me?
  • Have I recently experienced any life changes or transitions that might have caused this behavior?
  • Does anyone else in my family share the same behavior?
Teenage boy ignoring his mom in an argument

Young adult and teen treatment for behavioral disorders or addictions 

Although behavioral disorders and addictions may seem all-consuming, please know that treatment is possible. There are several available treatments so it’s best to find the right option for your needs and preferences, especially since people with behavioral issues sometimes have a co-occurring mental illness or substance use disorder.

One effective way to cope with a behavioral issue is intensive outpatient therapy. During therapy, a mental health professional will help you to feel safe and supported, while exploring healthy ways to cope with negative emotions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, is considered to be an effective treatment for behavioral disorders and addictions because it helps a person to challenge and change their thoughts and beliefs. 

Changing your behavior requires courage, commitment, and a strong care team. Charlie Health is here to listen to your needs, answer your questions, and match you with an appropriate treatment plan. Learn more today

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