Habit or Addiction?
"Addiction" has almost become a clich�. "I'm addicted to strawberry yogurt. I'm hooked on Facebook. I'm addicted to him or her. I always have a beer or glass of vino at dinner." Are our daily routines "addictions?"
The expression "We are creatures of habit" is accurate. Routines are our customary or regular course of procedure. They are our commonplace tasks, chores, or duties we regularly enact. They are typical of our everyday activities. Moreover, they're usually unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, and rote. I rise on automatic pilot after i get up, boil water for coffee with my coveted cup, grind coffee beans (medium roast) and add sweetener, creamer, and whipped cream. I don't want to think! I engage cruise control as I tilt the first sip. Effective routines enables us to be more effective, efficient, and expedient.
I habitually brush my teeth after breakfast, but do not obsess about this while i rise from the bed. Basically forget, I would not succumb to withdrawal later on. This is a habit.
Does somebody that always has a beer or glass of vino simply repeat a regular or, given alcohol's psycho-active properties, placate an addiction? Probably not-unless the beer is really a liter or the "glass" of vino is poured in quart-sized soda glass. Quantity matters!
This illustration should help in anyone discerning habit vs. addiction. There is a predictable sequence not merely linear but tragically, cyclical:
Trigger-stimulus ? Desire, impulse, obsession, craving ? Preparation-seeking ritual ? Compulsive behavior and increasing tolerance ? Negative consequences (work, family, legal, economic etc.) ? guilt, regret, remorse, frustration, anger, relief (sometimes withdrawal after stopping) ? Trigger-stimulus. "One won't hurt."
Around and around the cycle rotates, but better put, it is more of a spiral since the person's life deteriorates and functioning is impaired. The main element factors of addiction are obsession, ritual, compulsion and problems.
I did before play hearts and spades during my computer. I liked the push as I anticipated of playing, and that i had to win-no matter the number of games it took. When on a losing streak I'd blurt "F--- it" and storm out from the room. No big problem, right? No, I never gambled on-line and lost my family savings. But I fit the addictive cycle: I obsessed when I would play, seeked and engaged the ritual daily, felt the rush as hearts and spades illuminated and I vied against cyber opponents, and felt relief easily won. This may seem absurd to you personally, but I had some mild addictive elements. I made a decision through God's influence to finally stop. You know what? Deliverance. Or in AA's phrase "restore us to sanity."
AA has it right when they call alcoholism insanity, which includes tobacco, other drugs or combinations ingested. Inevitably, health and medical problems shall emerge. Behavioral addictions can include work, exercise, sex, romance, co-dependency, gambling, Internet compulsions and whatever activity causes the addictive cycle described above.
Addiction is hell on earth. Theologically, addiction is idolatry. The options are simple: stop and stay stopped. Permanently. If despite sincere desire and multiple efforts to stop, swallow your pride and get help ASAP. You deserve better.
By the way, I shall ready my coffee ritual tomorrow morning.
"Habit vs. Addiction" simply provides the reader a means to distinguish between common daily routines, habits and unconscious behaviors and predictable signs or symptoms indicating a bio-psychosocial attachment with a psychoactive substance or incessant, compulsive behavior.