Addiction or Habit?

Although we commonly tend to think primarily of drug, alcohol abuse and gambling, it is actually possible to be come addicted to just about anything at all. It has been said by the NHS, that over two million people in the UK are currently struggling with dependency on either a particular activity, or reliance on a substance of some kind. This dependency makes it increasingly difficult for them to control their urges, and eventually begins to have a negative impact on their wellbeing, relationships, work and general day-to-day life. It is important to be able to recognise that you have an addiction, so that you can take steps toward getting some help and guidance. There are many forms of help available, and a large number of people have found hypnotherapy particularly beneficial. However, it is important that in the first instance that you seek the advice and guidance of your GP, before consulting a hypnotherapist for help.

What is an Addiction?

According to the NHS, “Addiction is defined as not having control over the doing, taking or using something, to the point where it could be harmful.” This generally means that one will feel as if they have little, or no control over their behaviour in relation to particular substances, or activities. The results of an addiction will generally be self-destructive and possibly will eventually have a negative effect on those around them. Some addictions have very unpleasant withdrawal effects, and can also affect a person’s ability to make rational decisions and judgements.

What is a Habit?

A habit is a behaviour pattern acquired by frequent repetition, to the point where the individual is no longer consciously aware of doing it. The act itself becomes embedded within their brain, which causes them to automatically repeat the act, without thinking. A habit is not necessarily always a negative thing, and is not usually as destructive. Maintaining habits and routines within our life is a natural and necessary process, but when habits become obsessive or out of control, they become ‘bad habits. The good news is, that many ‘so called’ addictions, such as smoking, or eating too much or too little, are actually more likely to be bad habits. This means that by learning to exercise conscious control over them, we can break the pattern of behaviour that causes these bad habits. Hypnotherapy is particularly effective in these areas.

There are good reasons for the confusion between the two, as an addiction will generally begin as a habit. It could be said that an addiction is an extreme form of a habit, where one loses control over their behaviour in relation to that act, or substance. They may go to extreme lengths in order to obtain that substance or perform that activity, and in the process they will often begin to lose sight of the damage that they may be causing to themselves and others close to them. In order to determine whether one has a habit, or an addiction generally comes down to whether or not they can truly live without it.

Signs and Symptoms of an Addiction:

These are the common signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Your desire to have that substance, or do that activity overrides everything – feelings, emotions, people that you care about, work, other activities that you enjoy, etc

  • You begin neglect your normal life and everyday responsibilities, e.g. family, close friends, work

  • You stop enjoying and doing activities that you used to enjoy

  • You have physical and mental withdrawal symptoms if you either attempt to stop, or are unable to get to your substance, or activity. These may include: anxiety, irritability, shakes, nausea or anger

  • Your activities are causing problem with your relationships, family, work and friends

  • Your health is suffering, physically and mentally - Your mood may be low, low self-esteem and respect for yourself

  • You have to perform this habit/ addiction even more often to get the same feeling and perceived benefit.

What is the Cause of Addictions

Although there is no specific known causes, there are many factors that can increase the possibility of developing an addiction of some kind. These can be divided into behavioural and chemical.


  • A family history of addiction

  • A traumatic childhood experience

  • Mental Health – If you have experienced extreme stress, anxiety or depression, you may be more inclined toward developing an addiction


There are some experts who believe that the repeated use of certain substances and activities, connect to how the brain experiences pleasure. It is thought that addictive behavior triggers the creation of the hormone dopamine that causes feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Because the brain remembers that feeling of pleasure, it want to repeat them to re-experience the pleasant feeling. The overuse of the activity, or substance causes the brain to need this more often and more of it, so the user has to increase the amount and frequency in order to be able to experience the same ‘rush’, or effect. This makes it difficult for the individual to stop this behaviour, which will eventually cause them damage, both physically and mentally.

How can Hypnotherapy help with Addiction?

Hypnotherapy aims to guide you to believe that your addictive behaviour is something that you can control and overcome. The therapist seeks to work with you, in order to get to the root of the problem by having an in depth conversation with you to begin with. When you are ready, the therapist will induce you into a natural and relaxed state of heightened awareness (hypnotic trance). In this relaxed state, you will become more open to finding the solution within yourself, and you will be more receptive to suggestions that are directly compatible with your overall objectives. By helping you to gain a greater sense of understanding of your actions and perceptions, your self-esteem and self-worth will develop and grow. You will then be more able to find a way forward and begin to exercise control over your addictive behaviour. The hypnotherapist will provide the support and guidance required to alter habitual behavioural patterns. This enables you to treat the underlying cause of your addictive behaviour and rebuild your emotional strength to make more healthy decisions.

How can Hypnotherapy help you to break bad Habits?

Similarly to when treating addition, the hypnotherapist will help to guide you towards believing that you can control and overcome your habitial behavior. In order to help you to control habits, it will first be important to have an in depth conversation/consultation about your history, your goals and objectives. This may be followed by hypnosis and pure suggestion therapy. However, it is often useful to get right to the root of the problem, so that your success will be more permanent, or long-term, therefore some hypno-analysis may also be required. Each individual’s needs and wants will be different and will be treated as such.