3 Key Differences Between a Habit and Addiction

This article will cover “3 Differences Between a Habit and Addiction”, keep reading to learn the difference between them.

It’s often difficult to distinguish between a bad habit and a true addiction. Behaviors that begin as habits can often turn into addictions that negatively affect users’ lives. Below, you can discover some key differences between habits and addictions.

Severity of Engagement

A habit is something that people do because of the convenience it provides. A habit may fulfill a particular purpose or bring some element of joy to the user. For example, an individual may have a habit of having two beers after work at their local bar every Friday. This habit is something that they engage in regularly, but it’s for the sole purpose of enjoyment.

An individual who has an addiction partakes in harmful behaviors despite their negative consequences. An individual may notice that addiction negatively affects their life, as it may cause them to lose sleep, experience mood swings, cause relationship problems, and acquire health problems. The affected individual may continue to engage in unhealthy behaviors even though they’re harming their social life and physical and mental health.

The Effect on Brain Chemistry

Habits don’t affect an individual’s brain chemistry on a long-term basis. Instead, an individual participates in habits by exerting self-control. They may seek the pleasure that a certain behavior brings, but their brain doesn’t demand the results that the behavior provides. On the other hand, an addiction alters an individual’s brain chemistry.

Different substances and behaviors have slightly different effects, but most of them release a surge of dopamine to the basal ganglia. This is a region of the brain that provides pleasure and affects humans’ pursuit of rewards. When an individual has an addiction, their tolerance for a substance or behavior increases, meaning their brain demands more of it to achieve the same pleasure-providing results.

READ: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): Meaning, Dangers & Consequences

Addiction is treatable, but overcoming it is often much harder than resolving a habit. Stopping a habit requires minimal effort and time, and it doesn’t usually have withdrawal symptoms. Treating addiction is an intensive process that requires recognition and effort from the patient, and a strong support system. This treatment often consists of medical intervention by qualified health care professionals. Recovery from addiction often comes with unpleasant symptoms, like excessive sweating, vomiting, and anxiety. However, recovery from addiction can greatly increase the quality of an individual’s life.

The Amount of Control a User Has

A person with bad habits doesn’t necessarily feel the need to engage in their behavior. Alternatively, a person with an addiction acts compulsively to satisfy temporary needs. They may partake in their behavior multiple times a day and be unable to stop themselves.

A person with an addiction may attempt to hide their behavior from others or partake in it openly without admitting they have a problem. Their behavior may also restrict productivity in other areas of their lives, including their work, social relationships, and leisure activities. A person who has a bad habit is likely to engage in their behavior openly, won’t be defensive about their actions, and pursues their interests and goals with ease.

If you’d like further clarification on the differences between habit vs. addiction, contact the team at Canadian Centre for Addictions. Our experts help individuals who are suffering from addiction lead healthier lifestyles.