Most people are aware of the dangers that can stem from drinking alcohol and using drugs. While not everyone who drinks or uses drugs becomes an addict, there is a recognition that substance use disorder — a complex condition in which there is uncontrolled use of a substance despite harmful consequences — affects a significant number of people who do consume these substances. In fact, according to a recent national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 29.5 million people in the country were classified as having an alcohol use disorder, and 24 million people were classified as having a drug use disorder. That’s 16.5% of the U.S. population.
Fewer people are aware that there are other activities and behaviors that can become habits and, eventually, turn into addictions for some people. Examples of such behaviors include gambling, video gaming, eating, shopping, exercising, and engaging in sex. In fact, almost any behavior that is perceived as providing pleasure has the potential to turn into an addiction.
So when does a habit become an addiction? This article presents information intended to help answer that question. Along with exploring where and how certain behaviors fall on the addiction vs. habit spectrum, this article will help you identify if your habits have crossed over into the sphere of addictions and where and how you can help if this is the case.
Habits and addictions can be related, but they are not the same thing. A habit can be anything that a person does in a regular and repeated way — from taking a run every morning before work to having a glass of wine to relax at the end of the day. Some people like to spend time playing video games online for recreation, while others spend their spare time scrolling through social media sites on their mobile phones. A habit is simply someone’s usual way of behaving. Addictions form from habits, but not all habits turn into addictions.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, people experiencing addiction engage in behaviors that become compulsive, continuing with them despite harmful consequences. Addiction results from a rewiring of the circuitry in the brain. You engage in a pleasurable activity that produces dopamine, a type of neurotransmitter that tells the brain that something feels good. The more euphoria you feel from engaging in the activity, the more you’re going to want to repeat that behavior or activity. The problem arises when the habit that gives you pleasure becomes out of your control, resulting in diminished returns and, if not managed, grave consequences.
As long as that morning run, that relaxing glass of wine, and those video games and social media interactions don’t adversely disrupt the balance of your life or cause you any harm, they can continue to serve you well as pleasure-inducing habits. But if you find that engaging in certain activities begins to have unanticipated or unwanted consequences, you may have crossed the line into addiction.
Because we develop habits to enhance our lives, it’s not always easy to recognize the difference between a habit and an addiction. If you’re concerned that a habit of yours has become an addiction, ask yourself the following questions.
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, there’s a chance that your habit has become an addiction.
Whether you struggle with substance use disorder or are engaging in other addictive behaviors that interfere with the quality of your life, the caring addiction experts at South Beach Detox can help. We offer scientifically-based interventions and treatment protocols supported by data evaluation to deliver the most comprehensive treatment.
A multi-level treatment facility, we specialize in comprehensive medical and clinical care and dual-diagnosis treatment programs. From inpatient medical detoxification and residential mental health services to programs specially designed for professionals and executives, South Beach Detox can offer you the compassionate care you need to get your life back on track.
To learn more, reach out to us today or give us a call at 1-800-940-0082.