Addiction vs. Habit – The Difference Between

The difference between habit and addiction

Differentiating between habit and addiction is quite a challenging task.  Apparently they are similar though there are many subtle differences.

Habit is a behavioural pattern where one action has been repeated so often that it becomes automatic. There is an element of conscious choice in a habit. Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain which arises from habit but is a more extreme form of it. It is an uncontrolled dependence on something without which life appears meaningless.

Habit: When you repeatedly do an act, it becomes a habit. It is an automatic response of the brain: You have been doing something in a particular way for a long time, so you tend to do it the same way every time.

  1. Habit develops through practice or repetition.
  2. It manifests itself in regularity.
  3. Habit is conscious in nature. A person can have control over his habits.
  4. The long time outcomes of habit are positive to the self.

Addiction: It is also the repeated performance of an act but something without which you would find life difficult to live. An addicted person does not have any control over his impulses and is not conscious of his addiction. Addiction is a physical and psychological dependence on substances like drugs, alcohol or tobacco which temporarily affects the chemical composition of the brain.

  1. Addiction develops through uncontrolled repetition of an act or repeated use of a substance.
  2. It manifests itself in dependence.
  3. An addicted person does not have an easy choice in the matter. He cannot control his impulses.
  4. The long term outcomes of addiction are negative to the self. Addiction is destructive in nature.

Distinction between habit and addiction

  • A clear way to distinguish between habit and addiction is to check how easily you can maintain conscious choice over the habit. If you can control yourself it is a habit; but if you see that the habit controls you, then it is an addiction.
  • Habit is a result of a mental activity but addiction affects mental stability. Addiction adversely affects the power to think and take decisions and also the behavioral patterns in the person affected.
  • A habit is a habit when it is non-destructive. A bad habit is one that is annoying, which has a negative effect, but the negative effect is negligible. When the habit becomes damaging and outright destructive and even out of control, then it becomes addiction. Addictions are often classified as diseases by the medical and psychiatric community and some addictions even lead to disability and premature death.
  • It is said that habits die hard. Yet, if you try, you can change your habits through some changes in lifestyle. Addictions on the other hand are very difficult to get over. You need the counseling of a psychiatrist and proper medical treatment to be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Muhammad Hazem Sherif

    Thank you for the insightful article. I found it beneficial.