Habit into addiction

What is the difference between a habit and addiction

Scenario:- you get home from work, its been a stressful day and now you have the house to organise and a meal to prepare. You go into the kitchen and open a bottle of wine, pour a glass and go out to sit on the patio for ten minutes before you start dinner.

During dinner you top up your glass a couple of times and then while watching a movie you finish the bottle, just being sociable with family or friends

So far so good – apart from the fact that for your physical health you are in real danger of crashing through the recommended allowance if you are doing this every day.


Problem time comes when you get home after  yet another day and head straight for the bottle to help you unwind, you cant face anything or consider anything until you have had that and maybe another glass.  You prepare dinner but still feel a bit stressed so you feed the others and just relax with a glass while they eat. As you sit down to watch t.v. you really need to have a full glass in your hand for comfort.


Once anything --wine,  certain foods, chocolate etc  becomes central to your functioning you have a problem. If it is a case of “I can’t*** until I’ve had ****” you have a dependency problem. You have allowed that object to come to represent something much more than it really is. Alcohol is a fluid, it can have a chemical effect on you but it cannot solve problems, suggest answers,  or inspire  you it really can’t.


Any beneficial trait that you attribute to alcohol or to any other substance that you depend on in a non medical way can be replicated  in other ways.


Therefore if you say “I need a cigarette to help me relax “and another person says “I need a glass of wine to help me relax “ both are true and untrue in the same way. The smoker could drink instead and the drinker could smoke instead—in theory AND both of them could, instead,  take a relaxing walk in the park and get the same outcome.

 The problem comes when we attribute magical powers to substances--- we convince ourselves that we NEED those substances and that ONLY THOSE substances will provide what we need.


Realisation comes slowly and no one else can tell you that you have a problem. When you do realise that something has gone wrong and that you cant  sort it out come and talk to a therapist—they can help you wind back to a point before this was a problem, help you resolve whatever it was that enabled  the dependency to develop so that your relationship with alcohol, tobacco, food, sex or whatever can once again take its rightful, managed place in your life.

So the real question is………

 So you want to change. Could be  a big change like losing weight, stopping smoking, or maybe you want to stop feeling the way you do about some past event so that tyou can move forward . Maybe something is not working or is actually overworking, taking over control and limiting the things you are able to do.

Whatever the reason there is one factor that is the make ort break between success and failure and that is

Who are you doing this for?


Have those around you been pushing you towards a course of action, urging or even begging you to change. Do others tell you that you need to do whatever  to make things better, to make you happier etc???

When people say these things  how does that make you feel--- cared for, loved or bossed about and controlled


What would happen if you ignored them, or stood up and refused to do what they say?

How would you feel, strong, confident, independent, purposeful?

What would happen if you did exactly what they say?


Lots of questions but the most important is Do you want the change?

The reason that this is so important is that if you do not 100% want to make any change it will not happen. That is a good thing, why would you start on life changing paths if you were not sure that was where you wanted to go?

If you are not sure of what you want, how can you begin to explain to others where you want to go.

If you cannot commit to a change you will quit as soon as the going gets tough and the chances are if it is major change we are talking about the going will certainly get tough.

Change makes life different and you have to accept and allow that change, you need to be ready to live in different ways, permanently to avoid  continuing on the present path.


© Martin Williams 2013/15/16