California Treatment Center: When Does A Habit Turn into an Addiction?

Woman Smoking Outside California Treatment Center: When Does A Habit Turn into an Addiction
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California Treatment Center: When Does A Habit Turn into an Addiction?

Let’s face it, 2020 was a whirlwind of health threats, personal trials, and other life adversities for millions of people. In the face of anxiety and stress, it’s not uncommon for people to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the circumstances that seem out of their control. California treatment center facilities work with patients trying to determine if and when a habit turns into an addiction.

As the world steps into a new year, looking forward to new beginnings, old habits may be difficult to leave. Does a destressing drink at dinner turn to dependency when your body craves the alcohol? Are you bordering addiction if you start taking more than the recommended dose of your prescription pills? Before we can delve into the fine line between habit and substance use disorder, we must clearly define addiction.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is the continued consumption of alcohol or drugs despite dire personal consequences, like deteriorating health, financial struggles, or separation from family and friends. When someone battles substance use disorder, they are willing to make sacrifices they normally would not to engage in alcohol or substance use.

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Recognizing the signs of addiction takes a glimpse into three areas of an individual’s behavior: psychological, physical, and social. While substance use disorder presents differently in every person, the addiction symptoms below can serve as a reference to when clinical support from a California treatment center may be needed.

Psychological symptoms of addiction

  • Failed attempt to stop use: the inability to discontinue substance and alcohol use may be a mental (neurological) dependency, but the body may also be physiologically dependent.
  • Continued use despite failing health: being unable to stop using even when a related illness is present.
  • Increased risks to obtain substance: when individuals begin to make high-risk decisions to get the drug, like violence, criminal activity, or selling their belongings for money.

Physical symptoms of addiction

  • Withdrawal sickness: when an individual feels physical side effects if a regular amount of the drug or alcohol isn’t present. These include cravings, trembling, seizures, sweats, and uncharacteristic behavior.
  • Insomnia: irregular sleep patterns may exist, causing an individual to be awake for days at a time and then sleep for extended periods.
  • Increased use: as the body becomes used to a regularly consumed amount of drugs or alcohol, the individual will need to increase their substance intake for the same effect.

Social symptoms of addiction

  • Stops engaging in hobbies: substance use disorder can cause an individual to spend more time searching for and using drugs, leaving less time for hobbies they once enjoyed.
  • Isolation: solitude is often a first sign that a habit is becoming an addiction as many individuals do not want family or friends to be aware of the problem.
  • Denial: if confronted about a possible substance use problem, those suffering from addiction often rely on a defense mechanism. Complete denial is not uncommon, even if the individual is approached in a non-confrontational way.

Recognizing the signs of addiction is important, especially in the journey to support oneself or a loved one through substance use disorder. Understanding the difference between a habit and addiction is one of the primary benefits of a California treatment center.

Addiction vs. Habit as explained by a California Treatment Center

A habit is a routine behavior that becomes more difficult to stop the more prolonged the behavior is continued. Researchers have long debated the point in time when a habit crosses into addiction. In an analysis of whether people can choose their habits or addictions, Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., of Psychology Today, determined a clear point of difference between the two. Dr. Jaffe concluded that “habit formation is more choice-based while addictive behaviors can be more neurologically and biologically bound.” [1] Further research concludes that habitual or recreation drug and alcohol use is voluntary and acts as the precursor to addiction. [2]

When individuals begin a habit – drinking daily or experimentally using illicit drugs – they’re often seeking a release from a stressful situation or succumbing to a social environment. The use of alcohol or drugs occurs because the individual experiences a reward, or “high,” that offers the relief they desire.

While research supports addiction’s neurological and physiological understanding, it’s useful to recognize daily red flags that indicate behavior has gone from habitual to addictive. When the need for the reward, or “high,” becomes compulsive, and the behavior is no longer pleasurable, substance use disorder may be present. Lastly, if the behavior no longer provides relief from an undesirable environment, the drug or alcohol consumption may no longer be a conscious choice but rather, a physiologic dependency.

California Treatment Center Options for When Habit Turns into Addiction

It’s important to note that not all habits become addictions. To curb a neurological and biological dependence on drugs or alcohol, one must be aware of the substance’s dependence.

The drug experts and counselors at Clear Life Recovery, a top-rated California treatment center in Costa Mesa, can support you or a loved one through substance use disorder recovery.  With personalized treatment plans and a range of addiction therapy services, Clear Life Recovery has the ability to create a customized program for all patients. Contact our caring and skilled team today for information on addiction treatment and creating a long-term plan for a life of sobriety.






About Benjamin Hogan

Over the years, Benjamin has held positions in many different areas of alcohol and drug addiction services all over the country. He made a name for himself as an interventionist and has held certification as a Certified National Drug and Alcohol Interventionist (CNDAI-II). Benjamin specializes in helping support families of people struggling with addiction by focusing on education and instilling healthy boundaries to ensure lasting changes. Addiction is a progressive disease, but using an evidence-based approach, an intervention, when done correctly, can help to increase the willingness of a loved one to seek sobriety faster.

"In my experience, by helping families make necessary changes, they not only get their lives back, but they also help change the mind of their loved one more quickly. In an intervention, family and other loved ones take a proactive approach, instead of waiting and being stuck between fear and (false) hope. I realized in my own recovery, that when my family changed, I had to change in response. That is where I found sobriety. This is why I believe in what I do!"