Apr 9, 2021

How Do I Know if It’s More than a Habit?

Jack Kettering, Clinical Director
What You'll Learn
The Need to EscapeFacing the TruthHow do I know?Where can I turn for help? Take action!

April is stress awareness and domestic violence awareness month. Both situations can lead people to ‘quick fix’ coping strategies or escapes. But how do you know if a coping mechanism is becoming more than a habit - how do you know if it’s becoming an addiction?

The Need to Escape

Are you in crisis? Visit for immediate support or help.

The bonds of addiction can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
The bonds of addiction can lead to hopelessness and despair.

Escaping from difficult feelings is a normal way of coping. Whether it is stress related to school or work, or whether the difficult feelings are tied to domestic violences or more intense scenarios, there are many ways to cope. The ‘quick fix’ escape might be compulsive eating, isolation, impulsive spending, using controlled substances, and more. If you or someone you know have been using substances to cope with difficulties and don’t know if it is becoming an addiction, read on.

Facing the Truth

Realizing that you, or someone you know, has an addiction to something is usually a pretty difficult thing to face. Some feel guilt or remorse, while others feel angry and upset. Oftentimes a habit turning into an addiction brings on more than just a behavior that is difficult to break. Addicts frequently drop into states of depression and hopelessness, then fueling that addiction even further.

The first step in any path to recovering from addiction is realizing that you are, whether you like it or not, addicted to something. More often than not, addictions are to substances like alcohol or drugs. There are many quizzes online such as this one, that can help you determine if you are, in fact, addicted. While substance addictions are arguably the most common, there are plenty of people who are addicted to something else. These things may be cell phones, television, or pornography. Addiction may also involve abusing prescribed medications (using them in a way not prescribed by your doctor).

How do I know?

Even if it isn’t drugs, alcohol, or medications, all addictions should be treated seriously. If you’re unsure whether or not you do have an addiction to something, read through the following questions.

Am I addicted? Self evaluation questions:

  • Have I ever tried to stop?
  • Have I promised to stop but then didn’t?
  • Have I faced consequences for doing it?
  • If so, did I keep using, even after those consequences?
  • Do I have to increase the amount of usage to get the same result?
  • Is it taking more and more of my time?
  • Do I feel bummed out if I can’t use or access it?
  • Am I decreasing my usage of other activities?

Answering “yes” to one or more of these questions is a sign that you may have an addiction. The more questions you answered yes to, the more likely you are to need some sort of intervention. But remember, getting help is never a bad thing. While it’s very common to feel nervous or ashamed for getting help, it’s important to remember that it is an essential part of the recovery process. Below are a few quick and easy places to find help.

Where can I turn for help?

There are many possible avenues for getting help. Here are just a few ideas: 

  • Find a therapist near you. Psychology Today has a national directory of therapists and their specialties.
  • Looking for a rehab center? Find a directory of state-funded rehab centers here.
  • For something a little different, this treatment center may offer ideas that inspire your path.
  • Intensive outpatient programs such as what's offered at Hope Recovery and Healing can provide support and healing on your recovery path without residential or in-patient programming.

Are you in crisis? Visit for a list of immediate resources.

Take action!

Now you have some of the basic knowledge and tools about addiction recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the resources listed within this article. Remember to give lots of love to whoever is getting help, even if that person is you. It’s a difficult, and sometimes long, journey. But learning to cope, healing from addiction, and being able to be present in healthy ways can change your entire outlook on life. There is hope! Contact us or read about the addiction cycle here for more information.


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Jack Kettering

Jack is a licensed psychotherapist who has worked for decades in addiction recovery as well as treatment for trauma. He is certified in EMDR as well as CBT and DBT, and is passionate about healing and the journey to healing.

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© 2021 Hope Recovery and Healing.  This website provides information of a general nature and is designed for information and educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice.