Whether it’s losing weight or finishing an assignment, developing habits can be very beneficial when we want to exercise more discipline. However, habits can become addictions if you aren’t careful.
Here are some signs that a habit is becoming an unhealthy addiction…
1. Negative consequences
One of the main signs that a habit is turning into an addiction is the increase in negative consequences. While a bad habit can have minor negative consequences such as weight gain if you eat too many chocolate bars, the consequences of addiction are much more severe, often resulting in serious legal or financial issues. An addict might find ways to avoid such consequences, but they will not be able to avoid them forever. The continued abuse of their addiction, whether it be drugs or alcohol, despite the risk of serious negative consequences, is the hallmark of addiction.
2. Loss of control
A habit is something you have control over. If you think that your habits are creating problems for you, you will still be able to adjust your behavior. When you have an addiction, however, you lose control over the amount of time and energy dedicated to your addiction. In other words, an addict is controlled by their addictions.
Everitt (2014) suggests that certain people are more prone to developing addictions, especially if they are more impulsive and unstable. This explains why not all habitual users go on to become addicted.
An addict is often fully aware that their behavior is becoming problematic and creating issues in their life. This awareness often leads to a defensive attitude when asked even the most innocent questions. They may deny that there is a problem or even try to hide their addictive behavior.
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Everitt, B. J. (2014). Neural and psychological mechanisms underlying compulsive drug seeking habit and drug memories: Indications for novel treatments of addiction. European Journal of Neuroscience, 40, 2163-2168.
Honaker, S. R. (n.d.). When Does a Habit Become an Addiction? Recovery Associates. Retrieved from http://recoveryassociates.com/addiction-2/habit-become-addiction/