Addictions & Habits

Addictions & Habits

Habit: (n) "a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up" (Oxford Dictionary)

What's the difference between a habit and an addiction? The words are sometimes used interchangably, but there are differences. Habits could be bad or good, but addictions are almost always negative, having often serious impacts on relationships, health and other areas of life.

There is a fine line between habit and addiction, and if crossed a habit can easily turn into an addiction. Both habits and addictions are a result of behaviours that we engage in on a regular basis. A habit is usually something that is done unconsciously. Habits are often formed out of anxiety or fear - a source of comfort, perhaps, at one time in the past, but possibly now an empty habit that fulfils no purpose. Many habits will be formed in response to stress or anxiety: eating chocolate for comfort; smoking when stressed; grinding teeth. Whereas some habits and routines can be desirable and beneficial they may need be treated once they begin to interfere with a person's regular life.

An addiction is an extreme form of habit, and the fine line ends when a person loses control over the act and it becomes something the body needs. The body finds a great source of temporary pleasure or enjoyment in an addiction. This can often be a substance such as a drug, alcohol or food, but can also be an activity such as sex, gaming or watching television. A sure sign of an addiction is when we feel we must engage in a certain activity or behaviour in order to feel a certain way.

Negative Effects of Bad Habits

If left unchecked, habits and addictions can lead to further problems, or be symptomatic of another condition. For example, a person who is worried about their excessive nail-biting might become anxious and withdrawn; or, the nail-biting could stem from an existing anxiousness and offer some comfort to that person. If you suffer from any of the following, please contact me to hear how I might be able to help.

  • Poor self image
  • Loss of self-respect and self-esteem
  • Lowered physical health
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Lack of energy
  • Problems with sleep
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Impaired sexual desire and function
  • Damaged personal relationships
  • Financial problems
  • Job or career problems

In the treatment of habits, therapy enables the client to understand the situations in which the habit occurs. Comfort eating or nail-biting, for example, may occur in reaction to stressful situations at work. A person may be conditioned to have a cigarette at a certain time because that is 'what they always do'. Once these situations have been identified, work can take place to replace the habit with a more productive, less destructive way of dealing with that situation.

If you have a habit or an addiction you want to resolve, then hypnotherapy may be able to help you, because it works with the subconscious mind which is controlling the habit, and many habits can be relatively easy to break. BWRT works at rewriting the responses we have formed in relation to specific situations with new preferred responses, and once completed, those old responses are no longer necessary. BWRT can also help with any self-identity issues that feed addictive behaviour.