There might be a very thin line between a habit and an addiction, which you could easily cross without knowing. Hence, Knowing whether you’ve crossed the line from a habit to addiction is crucial to recognizing the behavior and finding treatment.
What is a Habit?
A habit, in technical terms, is a repetitive activity or ritual that becomes more difficult to break the longer a person has been performing it. Habits can become second nature. Consider your morning routine when you’re getting ready for the day.
You probably get up, wash, brush your teeth, dress, prepare breakfast, and leave for the day. Many people cling to this routine because it works for them, and they unconsciously engage in several habits every day. There is a distinction to be made between healthy and destructive behaviors.
Healthy habits are usually created by people who have a high sense of self-awareness because they recognize that the behavior is beneficial to their lives rather than destructive.
When does a Habit become bad?
A poor habit is a recurring, often unconscious pattern of conduct, or an established mental or character disposition, that is acquired via continuous repetition. Bad habits can also develop as a result of a habitual style or practice, which can lead to addiction, particularly to a mood-altering medication.
Bad habits disrupt your life and keep you from achieving your objectives. They put your emotional and physical well-being in jeopardy. They also squander your time and effort.
Examples of Bad Habits
Bad habits are very common compared to an addiction. Bad habits usually go unnoticed and are often made unconsciously. Here are some habits you often do without giving them a thought.
1. Eating Junk Food
Junk food has become ubiquitous in today’s society. Junk food such as fries, overly processed burgers, and sodas have become commonplace in today’s society. Junk foods are heavy in kilojoules, fat, sugars, and/or salt and have a low nutritional value (e.g., vitamins, minerals, and fiber).
Fast food, on the other hand, is a type of restaurant meal that is designed to be served to you as quickly as possible. Although some quick foods are healthful, the majority of fast foods are junk food. Salads, sushi, and sandwiches, for example, are healthy fast food options. However, most fast food places, such as McDonald’s and KFC, sell harmful junk food.
2. Being Late
Not only is being late annoying to others, but it also means you’re constantly hurrying from one place to another, catching up on your schedule, and apologizing to everyone you encounter.
Many people have made being late a habit in their lives; they are late to church, every appointment, every activity, and just about everything else.
Lateness is a horrible habit, and there are several reasons why you should break it right now. Lateness has a slew of drawbacks, including excuses, procrastination, lack of focus, disappointments, lies, and deception, and a slew of other issues.
3. Postponing activities until the dying minute
Procrastination is the practice of deferring or postponing duties until the last possible moment or after the deadline has passed. According to some experts, procrastination is defined as a “type of self-regulation failure marked by the illogical postponing of tasks despite possible negative consequences,” according to some experts.
Procrastination usually entails putting off a less pleasurable but perhaps more crucial duty in favor of something more pleasurable or easy.
However, succumbing to this urge might have catastrophic consequences. Even little instances of procrastination, for example, can make us feel guilty or ashamed. It can impair productivity and cause us to fall short of our objectives.
How long does it take to Form a Habit?
The 2009 study (via Healthline) found that there are too many factors in habit formation to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution. Certain habits, for example, take longer to form.
Many participants found it easier to establish the habit of drinking a glass of water at breakfast than to complete 50 situps after morning coffee, as revealed in the study.
Furthermore, some persons are more predisposed to habit-formation than others. Every habit, it turns out, begins with a psychological pattern known as a “habit loop”, which is a three-part process. The first is a cue or trigger that instructs your brain to go to automatic mode and allow a behavior to emerge.
Habit Formations rely Heavily on Reward Value
The reward value of the behavior is one of the factors. Anything that gives our brain powerful emotions of pleasure will be picked up quickly, which is why many of us already have a set of behaviors we’d like to break.
On the other hand, coming to the gym is not an enjoyable experience for most of us, and it will take a lot of effort to develop that habit. Another factor is the value of our pre-existing habits as a source of reward.
Most likely, our brain has already developed a number of highly rewarding routines that compete with the new skill we are attempting to master.
What’s more, how complex is the behavior? Simpler habits are easier to form than more complicated ones. Sitting on the couch is really convenient, especially when the alternative is getting in the car and going to the gym to work out.
How do habits become encoded in the Brain?
Your habits are the sum total of your existence today. What is your current state of fitness? Your habits are to blame. What is your level of happiness or dissatisfaction? Your habits are to blame. What is your success rate or failure rate? Your habits are to blame.
The Stages of Habit Formation?
Cue, craving, response, and reward are the four fundamental steps that make up the habit-forming process. It’s easier to grasp what a habit is, how it works, and how to improve it if we break it down into these basic components.
The cue is the first stage of habit formation. It causes your brain to start acting in a certain way. It’s like a program designed to always be on the lookout for a reward. Cues that communicated the location of major rewards like food, water, and sex were important to our prehistoric ancestors.
We now spend the majority of our time studying signs that predict secondary rewards such as money, celebrity, power, and position, praise and approval, love and friendship, or a sense of personal fulfillment.
Your mind is always scanning your internal and external environments for clues as to where rewards are hidden. Because the signal is the first sign that we’re getting close to a reward, it leads to a yearning.
Cravings are the motivating factor behind all habits, and they are the second step in the habit loop. We have no reason to act unless we have some amount of motivation or desire—unless we crave a change.
The shift in the state(from good to bad) that the habit brings is what you seek, not the habit itself. You don’t want to smoke a cigarette; you want the relief it gives you.
Brushing your teeth does not motivate you; rather, the sensation of a clean mouth motivates you. You don’t want to watch TV, but you do want to be entertained. Every yearning stems from a desire to alter one’s interior state.
Response to the Cue and Craving
The response is the habit you engage in, which might be expressed as a thought or an action. How driven you are and how much difficulty is linked with the behavior determine whether or not you respond.
You won’t undertake something if it involves more physical or mental effort than you are prepared to put out. Your ability to respond is also a factor. It may appear straightforward, but you can only form a habit if you are capable of doing so.
Finally, the response provides an “incentive”. Every habit’s ultimate goal is to be rewarded. The cue is to pay attention to the reward. The desire for a reward is the source of the yearning. The response is all about getting the prize.
When does a Bad Habit become an Addiction?
Habits and addictions are on opposite ends of the dependency spectrum, and while distinguishing between the two might be difficult, it’s critical. Habits are behavioral patterns in which one action is performed so frequently that it becomes automatic.
In a habit, there is an element of conscious choosing. When you perform an action frequently, your brain develops an instinctive response. Because you’ve been doing something the same way for a long time, you’re prone to doing it the same way every time.
Addictions are substance dependent…
On the other hand, addictions are chronic brain disorders that originate from habits but are more extreme manifestations of them. A person who is addicted lacks control over their impulses and is sometimes unaware of their addiction.
Addiction is frequently linked to a physical and psychological reliance on substances such as narcotics, alcohol, or cigarettes, which alter the chemical makeup of the brain for a short period of time.
Do you have an Addiction or a Bad Habit?
In general, we establish harmful habits and addictions when we are at our most vulnerable. Some people, for example, may start drinking alcohol for escapism, smoking for social acceptance, or gnawing their fingernails for distraction.
These (and other) behaviors can either remain simple habits or develop into addictions, which can be significantly more harmful.
Keep track of how easy it is to keep conscious control over the habit. It is a habit if you can control yourself; however, if you see that the habit is controlling you, it is an addiction. Habits are the consequence of mental activity, but addiction has a negative impact on mental health. Addiction has a negative impact on one’s ability to think, make decisions, and change behavior patterns.
In most cases, a habit isn’t harmful. A terrible habit is one that is bothersome and has a negative effect, but the effect is minor. It becomes an addiction when a habit becomes harmful, destructive, or out of control.
What is an Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic disease that changes a person’s thinking patterns and behaviors. According to the American Psychiatric Association(via northstarttransitions), addiction causes people to have an “increased focus on the use of a certain substance(s), like alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life.”
Addictions are much stronger than habits, causing them to take over a person’s obligations and responsibilities in favour of maintaining the addiction. Addiction essentially rewires your brain, which is why it can be so tough to quit.
Examples of Addiction
Most of us are probably aware of nicotine, drug, and alcohol addictions, but we may be less conscious of non-substance addictions. The following are examples of non-substance and substance addictions.
1. Gambling Addiction
Whether they are winning or losing, problem gamblers usually continue to bet. The compulsion eventually drives individuals to desperation, prompting them to place larger bets and blame or alienate family and friends when they lose.
Compulsive gambling has ramifications throughout the family and can have an impact on a gambler’s personal connections, profession, and life. Many problem gamblers use gambling to escape from life and other people. They claim that they feel the most at ease when they are alone.
Internet addicts become reliant on their virtual pals and hobbies. Instant messaging, social networking, gaming, and participation in online forums are examples of such activities.
Excessive internet use frequently disrupts real-life connections. Addicts who use the internet spend more time alone and less time with genuine people in their lives.
When attempting to reduce their internet usage, they may experience restlessness, moodiness, melancholy, and irritation and may even lie to friends and family about their usage.
People with a shopping addiction are that who shop till they drop’ and max up their credit cards. They believe that shopping will make them feel better.
Shopping and spending compulsively are comparable to other addictive behaviors in that they can have a negative impact on relationships, professions, and life goals. Shopping addicts may be unable to pay their debts in some situations, resulting in financial and/or legal difficulties.
4. Drug Abuse and Addiction
When you’re addicted to drugs, you can’t stop yourself from using them, no matter how dangerous they are. When you use legal or illicit substances in ways you shouldn’t, you’re engaging in drug abuse. You could take more pills than prescribed or use someone else’s prescription.
You may use drugs to make you feel better, relieve stress, or escape reality. However, you can typically adjust your bad habits or stop using completely. When you can’t quit, you have an addiction.
Not when your health is in jeopardy. Not when it causes you or your loved ones financial, emotional, or other troubles. Even if you wish to stop, the desire to get and use drugs might take almost every minute of the day.
Drug Abuse is called a substance abuse
The reward system in your brain is targeted by medicines that may be addictive. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is flooded into your brain. This produces a strong sense of pleasure. To get that high, you keep taking the substance.
Your brain adjusts to the increased dopamine over time. As a result, you may need to take more of the drug to achieve the same high. Other activities you formerly enjoyed, such as eating and spending time with family, may now provide you with less pleasure.
When you use medicines for a long time, it can affect other chemical systems and circuits in your brain.
How Addiction begins
Addiction has a lasting and profound effect on the brain, manifesting itself in three ways: a strong desire for the object of addiction, a lack of control over its use, and a willingness to engage in it despite negative consequences.
For many years, scientists believed that addiction could only be caused by alcohol and powerful drugs. However, current studies and neuroimaging technologies have revealed that certain enjoyable behaviors, such as gambling, shopping, and sex, can also co-opt the brain.
Whether the pleasure comes from a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a fulfilling meal, the brain registers all pleasures in the same way. Pleasure in the brain is marked by the release of dopamine in the brain in a cluster of nerve cells beneath the cerebral cortex.
Reward Centre of the brain and its Role in Addiction
By flooding the nucleus accumbens(neural network in the brain) with dopamine, addictive substances create a shortcut to the brain’s reward system. The amygdala generates a conditioned reaction to particular stimuli, and the hippocampus stores memories of this brief sense of fulfillment.
The reward circuit in the brain is made up of sections that are involved in motivation, memory, and pleasure. Substances and behaviors that are addictive excite the same circuit, which is therefore overloaded.
When nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing activities) are repeatedly exposed to an addictive substance or behavior, they interact in a way that links enjoying something with wanting, motivating us to pursue it.
This process, in other words, encourages us to take action in order to find a source of pleasure.
Are all Addictions Bad Habits?
- Is your behavior having a detrimental impact on your life, either directly or indirectly?
- Do you put yourself in high-risk situations on a regular basis?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms like worry or tension after you stop drinking or using for an extended period of time?
- Have you attempted unsuccessfully to stop drinking or using on your own, or have you taken attempts to disguise your behavior?
According to Journeypureriver, answering yes to any of the above questions may indicate that you suffer from an addiction. While an Addiction is different from a bad habit, a habit could easily develop into an addiction, especially when it involves a dependence on a substance.
Symptoms of Addiction
Science has narrowed down the actions and qualities that are signs of addiction after considerable research into addicts and what makes them tick. There are two sorts of symptoms: physical and behavioral.
Like a sex or gambling addiction, compulsive behavior has only behavioral signs. However, both types of substance misuse are possible:
Physical Signs of Addiction
Tolerance for a substance can cause either rise (meaning he’ll need more of it to achieve the “high”) or drop (meaning he’ll need less of it to get the “high” he wants) (meaning it will take less of the substance to obtain the high). When the addict stops using the narcotic, he will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral signs of Addictions
The addicted person will almost certainly have tried unsuccessfully to stop using the substance (or engaging in the behavior) in the past. He will also use more of the substance or spend more time using it than he intended, and he will spend a significant amount of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the substance.
Susceptibility To Addiction
While these are all signs of addiction, it has been proven that certain people are more prone to succumbing to it than others. Although it has long been assumed that first-time drug use is a choice, behavioral psychologists argue that this is not always the case.
A number of risk factors have been found that can lead to an individual’s addiction. Genetics (more on that later), peer pressure, pre-existing psychological illnesses such as anxiety and depression, and the quality of a person’s home life can all contribute to a person becoming addicted to a substance or activity.
It’s a lot easier than most people believe in crossing the line from habit to addiction. Many people aren’t aware of it until it’s right in front of their eyes, which usually happens when they hit rock bottom or experience something terrible in their lives, such as losing their job, home, or relationship. Differentiating between a habit and an addiction can help you get help sooner rather than later, allowing you to end the addiction and work to improve your overall quality of life.