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Habit vs. Addiction: Is There a Difference?

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Have you heard someone refer to their drug use as a bad habit?  If so, it may be a sign that they are in denial about the extent of their substance use. Anyone who uses recreational drugs regularly should become familiar with the differences between habit or addiction to protect their health and safety.

Habit or Addiction: Are They the Same Thing?

Everyone has habits. Some are good, some are bad.  Most of the time, habits aren’t dangerous or life-threatening.  Typically, a habit is a routine behavior that is hard to quit. 

The differences between habit or addiction are easy to recognize:


A habit may be something a person does subconsciously like biting their fingernails, fidgeting, slouching, or swearing.  Other examples of habits are evident in a person’s daily rituals like drinking coffee first thing in the morning or looking left, right, and left again before crossing the street. 


Addictions are far more powerful than habits.  When someone has an addiction they make sacrifices to continue their substance use.  Over time, obtaining more of the substance becomes their primary focus.  If the substance is withheld, intense withdrawal symptoms prompt them to seek more of the drug.  

How To Know if You Have a Habit or Addiction

Habit or AddictionThe main difference between habit and addiction is that professional intervention is needed to effectively defeat drug or alcohol addiction. Referring to addiction as a bad habit is an avoidance technique.  In time, the addiction progresses to a point that the person no longer has a choice as the substance takes total control.

According to mental health experts, the debate between habit vs. addiction can be summed up this way:  

“Habit formation is more choice-based while addictive behaviors can be more neurologically and biologically bound. Habit formation and substance use are often intertwined.”

If you wonder whether you have a habit or addiction, think about the differences mentioned here and be honest with yourself about your substance use.  It’s never too early to seek treatment at Design for Change Recovery and turn your life around before lasting damage occurs.

Habit or Addiction: What Are the Consequences?

Many people don’t understand what addiction encompasses or how quickly it can happen.  Some drugs such as heroin can cause addiction with a single use.  Also, one of the strongest and most addictive drugs on the streets today is fentanyl.  Unscrupulous dealers often lace other drugs with fentanyl because it is powerful and cheap. This drug can quickly cause addiction, overdose, or death.

If you are in denial about the extent of your substance use, take a look at what can happen if you continue.  From uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms to dire health problems, addiction will cause adverse effects on your health and your life.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Prolonged substance use is often the result of an inability to withstand powerful withdrawal symptoms. The intensity and frequency of the symptoms vary depending on the substance involved and the duration of the addiction.  These symptoms may appear when the drug is withheld:

  • Mood swings, anxiety, agitation, aggression
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Intense cravings for the substance
  • Depression, suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures, coma

The severity of the symptoms can be intense and life-threatening in some cases. 

Therefore, addiction specials recommend professional detox for anyone who wants to quit substance use. In a medically supervised detox, withdrawal symptoms are monitored 24/7 by trained personnel to ensure a safe, effective process.

Long-Term Health Consequences

Everyone reacts differently to the effects of drugs or alcohol.  Many factors influence the impact these substances have on a person’s health. Things such as existing chronic health problems, mental health disorders, environment, age, and gender can influence the extent of damage a substance causes.

If you use more than one substance at a time, such as cocaine with heroin, or opioids with alcohol, the risks of health complications increase significantly.  

Prolonged use of an addictive substance may lead to a range of physical and mental health issues such as: 

  • Cardiovascular disease  
  • Various cancers
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Respiratory problems
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Neurological damage
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Reproductive problems

The health effects vary depending on the substance involved.  With severe addictions, some of the health consequences can be permanent.  Preventing these dangerous health complications begins with professional addiction treatment.

Reclaim Your Health and Your Future. Contact Design for Change Recovery Today

Considering the risks involved in substance use, the distinction between habit vs. addiction is irrelevant.  If your drug or alcohol use is compulsive, it’s time to seek treatment.  

At Design for Change Recovery, we offer a customized treatment program that is right for your specific needs. The treatment modalities we incorporate into your recovery plan will address all physical, mental, and emotional factors that render you powerless to quit drugs or alcohol on your own.

The best time to seek treatment for addiction is not tomorrow, not next week, but today.  The sooner you begin, the more time you will have to enjoy healthier living.  Contact Design for Changes Recovery in Lancaster, CA to learn more about how our evidence-based programs can help you overcome addiction.

Sources: – Is Addiction a Habit or a Choice?

Habit vs. Addiction: Is There a Difference?