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Habits vs. Addictions

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I have a habit. I drink two cups of coffee early in the morning. I have an addiction. I need caffeine in the coffee to wake me up early in the morning and later at 10 a.m. to keep me going until lunch time. A certain thing you like to do over and over is a habit. When you cannot absolutely live without your habit, it is called an addiction. Some habits can be harmful when they become addictions such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, biting nails, eating junk foods, drinking sodas and more.

When something becomes habitual in a person's life, it is often negligible as long as it does not irritate anybody. Speaking loudly, cursing, biting nails, watching movies, constantly worrying, washing hands and listening to music are amongst the most known habits. Most of the time they do not harm the person committing the action or anyone around that person.

Habits do not call for professional attention. Nor do they bring a person to the brink of losing their sanity. A person could be doing one thing over and over for years without even noticing the habit. For example, when driving, I always put the seat belt on without thinking about it. The action is just automatic. Habits do not involve emotions.

Addictions on the other hand are bothersome to others or the person experiencing the addiction. Some addictions like drinking could not only hurt the drinker but also affect surrounding people. People with addictions have a reason to show for them. They are often depressed, angry or frustrated, and express their emotions in the form of addictions. They often want to take frustration and anger from their failures, family members and work place, then aim their troubles at themselves or their loved ones.

Persons with addictions like coffee get frustrated very easily if they do not get a cup. For example, I get very uptight, shaky, angry and snippy towards others. My hands shake, my head hurts and I cannot think properly until I get my morning coffee. Major addictions like drinking and gambling can sometimes result in violence. They may lead a person to harm themselves or their loved ones. Most domestic violence cases committed by husbands, involve husbands addicted to one or more of these harmful addictions.

Socially acceptable habits such as brushing teeth, mouth washing, bathing, making beds, eating a healthy breakfast, drinking milk, eating fruits, going to bed at a certain time, studying and creating family times are taught early and remain throughout life. Acquired tastes such as listening to a specific music genre, watching certain movies, reading books, playing sports and exercising are picked up as we reach adolescence. By the time a person reaches adulthood, he or she has already formed habits they practice for life. If a person forms a bad habit in their teenage years or early adulthood, the habit often transforms into an addiction. However, early intervention and counseling could correct these negative habits.

Domestic violence, peer pressure, work pressure, personal dissatisfaction and failed love affairs early in a person's life could lead to certain addictions such as drugs. Low self-esteem, disrespect towards one's self and others and rage against others sometimes lead to violence. A person usually regards himself or herself as a social boycott, looking for sympathy and attention throughout their addiction. When they do not receive attention, the amount of disappointment and depression could result in suicidal thoughts or attempts. Therefore, addicts often need to be watched. Counseling, antidepressants and psychiatric therapy are often needed and family support is crucial. There is always a chance that addicts take family sympathy or support for granted, and try to manipulate family members for their advantage.

Habits can be tolerable while addictions are often harmful. With a little bit of help from family and friends, a person could overcome their addiction-forming habit early so they can live happily and healthily. While constant vigil is not necessary, it is important for family members to be aware of a person's whereabouts to ensure that the person's and their own lives remain safe and meaningful.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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