Mental Health Brief #1

Distinguish habits from addictions

Monitor 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. Habits are a result of a mental activity but addiction affects mental stability. Addiction adversely affects the power to think, make decisions and also affects behavioural patterns.

A habit is generally non-destructive. A bad habit is one that is annoying, which has a negative effect, but the negative effect is somewhat negligible. When the habit becomes damaging and outright destructive and even out of control, then it becomes an addiction.

Generally speaking, we develop bad habits and addictions in moments of vulnerability. For example, some people may begin consuming large volumes of alcohol for escapism, begin smoking for inclusion, or biting their fingernails for distraction. These behaviours (and others) can remain as simple habits or can progress into addictions - which can be far more destructive.

Get support for managing addictions by calling 1-855-403-8922 or visiting www.myassistplan.com to register and browse online services.

The Opening Remarks mental health briefs provide Ontario lawyers with wellness tips and resources from a variety of individuals speaking in their own capacity. The briefs are not a substitute for professional care. If you are in crisis, we encourage you to urgently contact a mental health service provider.