Science of Habit Vs Addiction Infographic

Michelle Rosenker

October 2, 2019

Habits are common, as people tend to have many of them. Some habits are good, such as maintaining good dental hygiene and drinking lots of water, while some habits are bad. Biting nails, ignoring the alarm clock, and smoking are all bad habits. In most cases, bad habits are nothing that requires any sort of professional treatment, rather a conscious decision to end the bad habit and stick to behaviors that support accomplishing that goal. 

People often experience several kinds of habits, including habits related to:

  • Work
  • Sugar
  • Internet
  • Music
  • Love

Half of people’s everyday lives are rooted in habit, which is why when bad habits form, it is hard to eradicate them. They become second nature in many ways. However, bad habits can jeopardize your wellbeing, especially when a person gets stuck in a “habit loop.”

science of habit infographic

What is a Habit Loop?

Every habit begins with a psychological pattern. If a person with a habit is in control of the situation, he or she has the ability to break what is known as the “habit loop.”

The habit loop begins with a cue. A cue represents a category of behavior that leads to patterns that are determined by location, time, other people, and/or an emotional state. They precede the urge to engage in a specific behavior. For example, every night before bed, a person brushes his or her teeth. Prior to getting into bed, he or she is cued to brush his or her teeth. 

After a person is cued, he or she moves forward with his or her routine that is triggered by that cue. Sticking with the teeth brushing example, a person will routinely make his or her way to the bathroom to brush his or her teeth once cued. This is known as performing a routine. 

When the routine is completed, there is a sense of reward that is produced. That sense of reward provides a person with a temporary distraction from the cue. The reward part of the habit loop is extremely powerful because it satisfies cravings that a person may not even be aware of.


Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain, reward system, and related circuitry. It is not something that someone “chooses” to have, nor is it something that someone can just eliminate from their lives cold turkey. It is a disease that permeates throughout all areas of one’s life, triggering a domino effect of negative consequences. People might display habitual behaviors when addicted to something, but an addiction is much different than a habit. 

As mentioned before, a habit is an act of regularly doing the same things, such as texting while driving or eating the same lunch every single day. A habit, like an addiction, can be difficult to break. However, the most important element that separates addictions from habits is that addictions always produce negative results. People can have good habits, such as frequent bathing and sticking to a healthy diet. People cannot have a “good” addiction. The amount of physical and psychological distress an addiction can cause a person is too powerful to do anything but bring him or her harm. 

Examples of addiction include the following:

  • Opioid addiction
  • Cocaine addiction
  • Meth addiction
  • Sex addiction 
  • Gambling addiction
  • Video gaming addiction

How Does a Habit Transform Into an Addiction?

Habits and addictions, while very different, are not completely unrelated to each other. There exist several bad habits that can influence one’s propensity to start abusing drugs or alcohol. For example, a poor diet, lack of exercise, and not prioritizing sleep can serve as a catalyst for drug or alcohol abuse. 

There are five steps to forming an addiction:

Recreational use

  • The user is consciously regulating his or her behavior 
  • Use is done in moderate and safe amounts
  • The individual does not use until they are drunk or high, nor do they ever prioritize getting drunk or high over other responsibilities

Moderate use

  • The user is consciously regulating his or her behavior
  • Use is not excessive or completely irresponsible
  • The user now possesses a desire to engage in using and/or is preoccupied with doing so

Habitual use

  • The preoccupation to use becomes a conditioned behavior (a conditioned behavior is one where the subconscious begins to make the user think of use and desire to use often
  • The use is now an expected way of life and is frequent and occasionally excessive 
  • The user experiences denial of the seriousness of the behavior
  • Use is followed by mild regret

Compulsory use

  • The user feels like he or she has no choice in the behavior
  • There is a “force” that seems more powerful than the individual, causing him or her to use even if use is unwanted
  • The user’s subconscious seeks the reward produced by the use over and over again
  • The user does not experience much denial but rationalizes that the use is beyond his or her control

Addictive use

Once an addiction has formed, it can be exceptionally more challenging to stop than a regular habit would be. For example, someone who has the bad habit of procrastinating is not going to require professional treatment to break that habit, as focusing on avoiding procrastination can help end that habit. Someone who is addicted to heroin usually cannot just stop using independently and successfully avoid using again. 

Get Professional Addiction Treatment at JourneyPure Melbourne By Calling Us Right Now

The disease of addiction is progressive, as it becomes more intense as use continues. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you are probably well aware of this. However, no matter if you have been addicted to a substance for a few months or a few decades, there are options available to you. 

At JourneyPure Melbourne, we can help you put an end to your active addiction once and for all. With our team of medical and psychological experts ready and able to help, you can begin your journey towards recovery. 

So, do not let another day go by without asking for the help that you need in order to end your addiction. At JourneyPure Melbourne, we can help you turn your life around.