By: Lisa Chirichella, TTC Alumni Coordinator
When an individual takes up a new hobby or activity that becomes a habit, it can be difficult to know when the line has been crossed into it becoming an addiction. It is important to understand that addiction does not only refer to drugs and alcohol. You can be addicted to smoking, exercising, shopping, gambling, eating, and more. Knowing the difference between a habit and an addiction is crucial to ensure you are living a healthy and manageable life.
What is a habit? A habit is a routine behavior or ritual. The longer a person has been doing a routine, for example, a person starting their pot of coffee in the morning as soon as they wake up would be a habit. Addiction is the inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. Being cognizant of when you have crossed the line from a habit into addiction is critical for spotting the behavior and getting help for it. To recognize if the activities or behaviors you are engaging in are habits or addictions, you can ask yourself the following:
Is your behavior having a negative impact—directly or indirectly—on your life?
Do you repeatedly put yourself in risky situations?
When you stop drinking or using for any length of time, do you experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety or stress?
Have you taken steps to hide your behavior or have you repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, tried to stop drinking or using on your own?
Am I doing the behavior more than I planned?
Am I unable to stop engaging in the behavior even if I want to?
Do I feel anxious when I am unable to engage in the behavior?
Am I failing to fulfill my personal obligations and responsibilities at the expense of my behavior?
Are my loved ones confronting me about the behavior and expressing concern?
Am I hiding the behavior from others?
Have I experienced withdrawal symptoms when I attempt to stop?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may have an addiction rather than a habit. Professional help and treatment are recommended options to help address, understand, and learn how to overcome an addiction. Addiction can take a serious toll on your life, your family, your friends, your career, and everything you have worked for. Asking for help or saying I am not okay is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of true bravery and courage. Taking the steps to regain control can be a very powerful and life-changing experience.
If you or a loved one are struggling, please reach out!