If you’re asking the question “when should I get help” you already know the answer. If you’re asking “when” the answer is now.
Bad Habit or Addiction?
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a bad habit and an addiction. Both are voluntary behaviors. Both provide some satisfaction or pleasure. Both are part of our routines. And, both are activities that we don’t want to stop.
There are lots of ways to distinguish an addiction from a bad habit. Try some of these litmus tests if you’re unsure whether it’s a problem or not.
Is it an addiction or just a bad habit? You really ought to know.
You get up in the morning, put on the coffee, get ready for work, and leave home without too much thinking. It’s your daily routine, etched in your brain. You perform the same tasks, in the same order, learn the routine, and put yourself on auto-pilot for many routine activities. We do them over and over, often without a thought.
Bad habits and addictions share common characteristics as part of your daily routine. However, the differences between habit and addiction are distinct.
Habits can be good or bad. Brushing your teeth after meals is a great habit. It improves your dental health, and you like that squeaky clean feeling of clean teeth. Brushing your teeth isn’t an addiction. It delivers positive benefits.
On the other hand all addictions – whether abusing drugs or alcohol or engaging in unhealthy activities like gambling or avoiding food to lose weight – are always bad.
When a Habit Becomes an Addiction
A habit – even a bad habit – is unlikely to ruin your life. Addiction ruins lives of addicts and their loved ones every day. When a bad habit becomes an addiction, your life changes. The lives of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, everyone you know, are at risk. Drive after drinking and you risk the lives of total strangers – people going about their lives until your addiction destroyed those lives.
Consider the impact your behavior has on the quality of life. If it’s a small, harmless impact, it won’t destroy you. If the activity drains financial resources and harms your health and the health of others, you have an addiction.
Why Do I Do This?
Every addict asks this question.
Why am I abusing drugs that make me unhealthy? That lessen quality of life? That hurt the people I most care about? That make me feel tired and sick?
Your answer to “why” indicates whether you have a bad habit or an all-out, five-alarm addiction.
If you enjoy a glass of merlot with dinner every night, that’s a habit. It’s a pleasant activity that you enjoy.
However, it’s easy to transition from social drinker to binge drinker or an everyday alcoholic. If you engage in the practice moderately, and you’re certain you can stop, and that it doesn’t have a negative impact on life, it’s a habit.
When the reason for the addiction is to blot out unpleasant memories or feelings, it’s not just a habit. It’s become an addiction.
The quantity of drugs or alcohol consumed is a clear indication that you have an addiction. If your first thought in the morning is where you’re going to score that day, you have an addiction. Ask yourself why you engage in harmful behaviors? If it “controls” emotional pain, you’ve got an addiction.
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What Would Be the Impact if I Quit?
Imagine an addiction-free life. No more hiding, sneaking around, looking for a place to score – life gets easier faster without substance abuse or harmful behaviors. However, taking that first step toward a clean and sober life is the hardest step you may ever take.
Don’t believe the old myth that an addict has to hit “rock bottom” before rehab can be effective. You don’t have to lose everything. You don’t have to hit bottom to know you need help. You know it now. That’s why you’re still reading.
Isn’t it time to take control again?
You know it is, and finding the right people to help you on your journey to a better life can be difficult. That’s why Hawaii Island Recovery was founded – to give addicts healthy alternatives and ongoing support.
Drop us a line or give us a call to talk to an understanding, caring professional who will help you make the right choice to visit Hawaii Island Recovery’s beautiful facility on the Big Island of Hawaii.