All of us have habits, and some would say we all have addictions. In our thinking it is easier to accept the thought of a habit rather than an addiction. But are there differences, and if so, what are they?
A habit is defined as a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition to the point where the person is not even aware and the brain does it automatically. Habits can be categorized as positive or negative, can be controlled, and usually are not destructive in nature.
An addiction is an uncontrollable, compulsive need to engage in certain behaviors, which when deprived causes horrible effects. There is a fine line between habits and addictions, and if crossed, habits can easily become addictions. Addictions are characterized by tolerance and by well- defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.
Habits and addictions can arise from similar experiences. Biting nails, sucking your thumb, tapping your feet, and twirling your hair are common examples of habits that many of us have experienced either as children ourselves or with our own children. These habits may be emotional responses to stress, discomfort or inability to negotiate some area of our lives. However none of these are life threatening and usually can be changed, stopped or modified without any impairment to bodily functioning.
Addictions also may begin as a response to stress, defeat, emotional upheaval, traumatic event, or inability to manage some area of our lives. We are seeking comfort and escape from the pains of life. But the very nature of addiction is to take control over us, demand satisfaction, and keep us in bondage, irrespective of what the side effects might be if we dare withdraw from usage or participation. And we are helpless outside of God’s grace and professional intervention to do anything other than give in to the addiction.
Addiction is no longer a term used in conjunction with just alcohol and drugs. Addiction includes sex, shopping, gambling, work, relationships, religion, food, and computers, just to mention a few. So how does one participate in life and not succumb to the many varied addictions that surround us daily?
The answer lies in our relationship with a God who created us with a longing. It is a longing that only He can fill and it is only in turning or returning to Him that that longing is satisfied. We have been in search for a long time for something or someone to satisfy that desire. We invite you to consider exploring this longing. If you are interested in learning more check out our book, Cleansing the Sanctuary of the Heart: Tools for Emotional Healing on the Products link.