Why It’s So Hard to Break the “Bad Habit” of Addiction

Breaking bad habit of addiction isn't easy. Learn how it affects the brain and how to stop drinking and using drugs.

Many people struggle with bad habits – things they know they shouldn’t or simply don’t want to do but do anyway. Addiction is far more than a bad habit, and the difficulty of breaking addiction by no longer drinking or using a drug of choice isn’t easy to do. Sometimes, the habit of drinking or using drugs can lead down a path of worsening addiction as people fail to deal with the difficulties of daily life.

Why Are Bad Habits Hard to Break?

A large number of people with addiction want to stop using that substance but find themselves unable to do so. One reason for that is the way addiction impacts the brain. Why does such a habit develop?

Habits are a normal part of everyday life, and often they form over time without conscious thought. You do the same thing every day because you’re used to it, like driving the same route to and from work each day or showering every morning. In situations like this, your brain relies on automatic programming to follow the same path, and that means it doesn’t have to use all of its conscious power on that activity.

Habits can also occur when the brain begins to associate some activity with a reward, such as pleasure or excitement. When an action triggers the reward center of the brain, the brain does the following: 

  • Connects the action to the good feeling
  • Continues to seek out that good feeling by repeating the same action
  • Becomes dependent on that action to feel normal, creating cravings and withdrawal symptoms when it doesn’t happen

The feeling of reward is caused by dopamine release. Drugs and alcohol have a powerful ability to trigger dopamine release in the brain. As a result, using them regularly trains the brain to associate them with happiness and pleasure. The habit of drinking or drug use can quickly escalate into a routine that the brain believes is necessary to function. When you try to break that bad habit, it just doesn’t seem to work. Your brain will continue to crave the substance even though you’re trying to avoid it.

As noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when you try to stop using addictive substances, you have intense feelings and cravings. This can be a sign of a substance use disorder.

Breaking Bad Habits Means Changing Your Brain

Even though addiction can be very difficult to overcome, breaking the bad habit of substance use is possible. Your brain learned the behavior and can learn new good habits as well.

How do you break bad habits related to addiction? Several strategies can help.

  • Get into a treatment center with a detox program

An alcohol and drug detox program, like what we offer at The Ranch at Dove Tree can be the most important and most impactful change you make. When you step into a treatment center like this, you create a way to safely stop the cravings you feel, breaking that intense demand in your brain.

  • Learn what your triggers are

Many people with a substance use disorder begin using substances as a way to deal with unpleasant situations. For example, stress at work leads you to stop every day at a local bar for drinks. You are feeling stress at home, so you reach for a substance of your choice to take the edge off. Learning what your triggers are allows you to be more cognizant of what’s occurring so you can make better decisions.

  • Replace bad habits with good habits

With the help of your drug and alcohol addiction treatment team, you’ll learn how to do this. It’s all about finding new ways to deal with the struggles you have. For example, when you begin to struggle with cravings, applying mindfulness meditation can help. At The Ranch at Dove Tree, a holistic drug rehab in Lubbock, Texas, we put in place a variety of positive healing strategies to support your recovery.

Let’s Talk About Your Bad Habits 

Turn to The Ranch at Dove Tree now to discuss your specific needs. Let our compassionate counselors offer insight into what steps you can take right now to find relief and support. Together, our team can help you to break bad habits and create positive habits and strategies that fulfill your life. Contact us now.