Many people identify good habits as essential to living a successful life. Exercising, reading, and meditating are examples of those things practiced regularly that can improve a person’s life. However, bad habits can potentially hinder our success and even cause harm. For example, habitually overeating and smoking can have serious, even life-threatening consequences. Some people who drink alcohol daily may think of this as a bad habit. It might be, but it also may be something more serious—addiction to alcohol. Read more to find out about habit vs addiction to alcohol.
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What is a Habit?
A habit is something you do routinely. Experts disagree on how long it takes to form a habit, and it probably depends on the habit you are trying to form. Some may take as little as a couple of weeks, while others may take a year or longer. However, once you develop a habit, whether good or bad, it becomes increasingly difficult to break. For example, someone who smoked for one year will find it much easier to break the habit than someone who has smoked for twenty years.
Although breaking a bad habit may be difficult, it is typically very doable with some relatively simple steps. For example, some experts believe that if you identify the cue or triggering factor and the reward you receive from the habit, it can be easier to break free.
What is Addiction to Alcohol?
Addiction is much more complicated than just being a habit. While habits involve willingly choosing a behavior, addiction can involve genetics, brain chemistry, and other complex factors. By the time addiction has occurred, a desire has evolved into an intense craving, a loss of control over choices, and changes in behavior. The habit of a drink after work turns into an obsession. This constant focus engulfs almost every aspect of a person’s life.
A person addicted to alcohol is trapped in a reward circuit that includes powerful chemicals released by the brain, such as dopamine. The pleasure brought by dopamine becomes a physical necessity for the addict to function daily.
Signs of Alcohol Habit vs Addiction
Alcohol addiction, unlike a habit, interferes with the ability to function daily due to problems in mental, physical, and social health. Compounding these problems are the changes created in the brain that can have serious long-term effects.
Signs of alcohol addiction include:
- Strong cravings or urges to drink alcohol.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Irritability and mood swings.
- Drinking alone.
- Changes in physical appearance.
- Loss of interest in other activities.
- Eating an unhealthy diet.
- Poor personal hygiene.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Diminished coordination.
- Financial difficulties.
- Struggles with relationships.
- Ignoring school or occupational responsibilities.
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We help people find freedom from alcohol to pursue a life of self-confidence, happiness, and wellness. To learn more, contact us to discover how we can provide the help you need.