Addiction vs Habit: A Checklist for Addictions Counsellors

May 6th, 2015 by CTSCCC

Many people consider habit and addiction to be interchangeable terms. And while they share similarities, certified addiction counsellors understand that they are actually quite different. An addiction contains psychological and physical elements. This means that an individual suffering from an addiction is mentally or physically incapable of controlling his or her addiction without seeking help. However, a habit is actually something that is continuously done by choice. There is no psychological or physical component involved here, and a habit can be successfully stopped or broken at any time if the person is willing.

Differentiating an addiction from a habit will eventually become an effortless task for students pursuing addiction councelling careers. However, if you are currently taking courses to earn your degree and would like to get started on understanding the contrast between the two, read on.

Addiction Counsellors Know That Habits Are Behavioural Patterns

Graduates of addiction intervention councelling programs know that a habit can be something as menial as excessively biting ones nails, playing with ones hair, or tapping ones feet. It is something that is built by repetition and a person who has a habit is usually unaware of the fact that they are doing it. Habits can be both positive and negative and while positive habits tend to support the way people live, negative ones can sometimes hold them back from growing personally or professionally.

Although it does require a certain level of hard work and dedication, habits can be modified, changed or broken. Individuals who have taken addiction intervention courses understand that if a person were to abruptly stop a habit, it would not cause any physical or mental harm to him or her. Whereas if someone who is addicted to a certain substance were to skip a day of consuming that substance, he or she would likely experience withdrawal effects.

Of course, the most important difference between a habit and an addiction is the fact that habits are not destructive in nature. A habitual act simply becomes ingrained in the brain after it has been repeated excessively and the brain begins to send signals to the body to perform that specific act.

Understanding the Severity of Addiction as an Addictions Counsellor

Professionals who have had addiction intervention training are aware of the fact that an addiction is a compulsive need of a certain thing, substance or act for the body. In fact, when the body is deprived of that thing, horrible withdrawal effects can and will likely occur. Some experts define addiction as an extreme form of habit where a person has no control over the act and it is (or it becomes) a bodily need for him or her. This is where the confusion between addiction and habit is likely derived.

While a person has complete control over their habits, when someone is suffering from an addiction, it is actually the addiction that maintains full control. Additionally, there are absolutely no positive forms of addiction. Addiction councellors know that there are a range of acts and substances that people often become addicted to, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise and gaming.

Contrary to popular belief, addictive behaviour can be modified, however it takes a lot of time, devotion and patience, as well as professional help and determination. Most people know that addictions can cause the body to deteriorate and can also cause sudden death if the substance or act is long term.

Do you think you will be able to easily identify addictive behaviour from habitual behaviour once you have completed your addiction intervention training?