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If left unchecked and unmanaged, bad habits can become addictions with debilitating consequences. Fortunately, spiraling down can be avoided with behavioral awareness.

There’s a thin line separating a habit from an addiction. It’s a line so miniscule yet consequential it turns people’s lives upside-down, impacting their personal bubble and those around them.

These two may share a certain similarity. They’re constant and ever-present in people’s routines. But one has a more detrimental effect on their well-being, an unmanageable impulse bringing chaos into their lives. While habits can be bad or good, they’re a personal choice people make. They stem from people’s need to balance a firm routine and leisure, a daily pattern they can maintain and enjoy. On the other hand, addiction is considered all-negative, occurring when this choice spirals out of control—commonly associated with bad habits that bring consequences to people’s lives.

Control is the primary factor separating a habit and an addiction. But how can people ensure they have enough of it to remain safe and healthy?

The Thin Line Between Habit and Addiction

In the alcoholic spouse book by Margaret Moschak, readers are exposed to the harsh reality of addiction. From a harmless source of leisure and pleasure, which turned into a source of personal destruction and damaged familial relations, the author spotlights the damaging shift of when bad habits turn into addiction. Who would’ve thought a seemingly harmless activity for one’s entertainment could cause such debilitating consequences in one’s life?

When things slip out of people’s grasp, routines can turn into compulsions with consequences.

In as simple as letting go of control, bad habits can overtake one’s behavior, overruling their logic and allowing these to cause them harm. These may start with people’s convenience, a leisurely and harmless part of their routines. But once they tread toward destructive territory and patterns, that’s when things get complicated. Any habit, good or bad, has the potential to turn into an addiction, depending on the emotional response it carries.

Although addiction doesn’t only involve people’s heavy vices like drugs and alcohol, let’s face it, these have the most probability of turning into unfavorable compulsions.

The primary difference between these two relies on people’s control throughout the activity. In terms of drinking alcohol, it’s only ever considered a habit if people know and honor their tolerance or limitations. They may repeatedly drink during weekends, a routine they practice, but they remain in control of their intake. However, this activity turns into addiction if people lose control of their intake and become dependent on alcohol to function correctly. They use alcohol to cope with life, engraving an emotional response in the activity.

When Bad Habits Teeter Toward Addiction

Successfully identifying when bad habits are gradually teetering on dangerous territory and within the initial stages of addiction is a proactive approach toward better health. Knowing the first signs that a means of leisure is becoming detrimental is an effective and excellent start in improving one’s well-being.

Fortunately, with awareness, recognizing signs of addiction can be reduced into three aspects:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Social

Once the brain believes that these bad habits are beneficial throughout these areas, there’s an increased probability that they can turn into full-blown addiction. With these advantages in view, the brain builds a physiological connection. It rewires these bad habits as vital in people’s lives. Hence, the harmless habit of drinking alcohol becomes an addiction when it’s associated with stress relief, confidence boosters, and an opportunity to hang out with friends.

Once these bad habits become associated with consequential benefits, they become a necessity. Regardless of the substance one consumes, the brain produces a “feel good” dopamine. Despite the name, this is when trouble starts brewing. The more people desire to feel good, the more they become less productive and efficient without these substances.

The Rule Governing This Thin Line

When people relish in the feel-good dopamine, they can miss the mark separating habits and addictions. However, the frequency is a principal sign to observe to ensure they stay within the bounds of habits.

As people say, “Everything in moderation.” Whether the routine is relatively good or bad, as long as it’s practiced moderately, there shouldn’t be any risk of detrimental effects. Regardless of how many glasses in a day or how many days they drink a single glass of alcohol, as long as they control themselves, the activity should remain harmless, void of any negative impact.

The frequency of these behaviors can also define why people practice them. These reasons can be critical in determining whether it’s time to seek help or the situation is still manageable.

For instance, if people find themselves drinking more frequently, it’s time to examine why they’re doing so and what happens when they do so. Are they drinking to face an ongoing problem? Do they believe they can fulfill their obligations and resolve their issues if they drink? In thorough observations and examinations like this, people can differentiate between bad habits and addiction. These can signal when they’re about to enter the harmful and chaotic territory.

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