We are heading to Oxford Languages today:

Habitsettled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up

Addictionthe fact or condition of being physically and mentally dependent to a particular substance, thing or activity and unable to stop without incurring adverse effects

Obsessionan idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind

We see the way these words are meant to be interpreted. But how to we really interpret them in real life?

I consider habits to be my daily, weekly and monthly routines- I go to the gym four mornings a week, I write every day, I walk the dog, clean the litter box, do wordle, etc. These are things that I do on the regular because they make me feel good and help me accomplish things. In general I think habits are a plus.

Do you consider habits plusses or minuses?

How about addictions?

I drink tea in the mornings. Every morning. I am grumpy if I don’t get to have my tea. But am I addicted to tea? Perhaps you could say I have a caffeine addiction, like if I were to get a headache if I didn’t have a caffeinated beverage- but how worrisome would this be? I stop drinking anything with caffeine at 3pm, and I am perfectly fine till 6am the following day. Other than a possible caffeine thing, I don’t believe that I am addicted to anything. But, I do think addictions are bad, with some addictions being worse than others.

Do you think all addictions are bad, or do you think there is a sliding scale?


I think I can become obsessed with certain things for short stints. The other day my mind went down the rabbit hole of a particular episode of 90210, and I felt compelled to find answers to my questions immediately and I would not be sated till I stopped. For ten minutes I became obsessed with this idea. But I am not completely preoccupied with these things for longer than a few minutes. I am very very against censorship and book banning but I do not think about these subjects ad infinitum. There are even subjects I could talk about for seemingly endless amounts of time, but I don’t know if I would call any of them obsessions. But- I could be wrong and someone else could say I am obsessing…

How do you determine what is just interest in a subject versus being obsessed?

Now it’s your turn: What do you think the difference is between habit, addiction and obsession? Do you think habits can turn into addictions and/or obsessions? How do we know when to stop something and correct before it takes a turn?


38 thoughts on “Habit, Addiction or Obsession

  1. My thoughts on the differences

    Habit – something you do routinely, good or bad, but won’t do lasting harm

    Addiction – something you need to do or you will feel like something is wrong, physically or mentally

    Obsession – something that consumes every minute of your day

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Honestly not much difference. But addictions are usually considered to be harmful in some way while habits are often positive. Obsession is usually something that distracts from everything else, so not usually a good thing, but can also result in great art or music or new inventions, so not always bad. I think history has been changed by people who were obsessed with trying to solve various problems or create something new.

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    1. Yes…if someone is totally consumed in funding an answer, figuring something out, they do need to be all in…but there’s that thing about genius and madness…

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  3. I see truth in each of your definitions but your last question is what struck me: “How do we know when to stop something and correct before it takes a turn?” Maybe that’s the key and what probably turns a harmless habit into something deeper. It is the psychological aspect that turns and creates the darker, deeper need and obsession. So what drives the brain aspect- chemical alteration/endorphins- the bodies susceptibility to biological changes that stimulate pleasure centers that then seek more stimulation in an endless loop. We just went from habit to addiction or obsession. I think we already understand that many people can stay within the habit level and never advance, while others rapidly respond to the need signaled by their brains. I don’t think we’re looking at choice, but an innate structural response in the brain. *Disclaimer- I am not attempting to be a neuro scientist or psychologist for reals- only amateur status 😉

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    1. You hit on my exact overriding question…when does running five miles 3 days a week morph into an insatiable thirst to run even when we’re hurt or sick and/or have it effect our mood?

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  4. Hmm, for me there are big differences, although obviously it depends on how you interpret the words. Activities/actions that are habit-forming are, for me, positive ways of ensuring my days and weeks go well. Addictions like picking up my phone to see if I’ve missed anything every few minutes are not constructive in the slightest, although not as bad as a drug addiction! Obsessions are best moderated, at least for me. Unless it’s one of my favorite sports teams, that is; that’s my idea of a healthy obsession! 😏 Nice post, LA.

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  5. LA, I’m not trying to be the ‘heavy’ here. But often words like addiction have become ‘softened’ in societal use to the extent that when used in its true context – the resultant understanding and devastation of ‘being addicted to heroin/whatever’ is also watered down. I’m admittedly more sensitive to this as we just lost our son-in-law’s sister to Fentynal after years of myriad addiction ups, downs and hopes for kicking it.

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    1. You’re spot on. I wrote a post awhile back, where I lost a bunch of followers, because nyc put up ads saying that if you’re going to do heroin, there are safe ways to do it, like always with a friend, etc. I got pissed off because I said that people don’t understand the nature of addiction (a former classmate of my daughters died from overdose last year) but yes…we tend to soften things, which is why every now and then I try to talk about how we see things vs how they are

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  6. I used to obsess after people’s reaction to something but I just move on, mostly. Addiction has a bad connotation and denotation and habit seems helpful like reinforcing a habit in a workplace, at home, or with exercise. Obsession and addiction don’t meander well in my brain but habit does.

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  7. Great questions….I think of all of these as being part of the same soup…easily prey to dysfunction by degrees…if daily living, decision-making are impacted. Good food for thought, LA! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These words are formational in that our character inspires us to act, our actions become habits, etc. You’ve probably read that poem. But honestly our habits, addictions, and obsessions dominate our daily lives. I to have caffeine in the morning or I’m grumpy. I look at my phone too much. I obsess about things especially when I’m mad. Like Victoria said, these are “easily prey to dysfunction by degrees.” Stopping, evaluating, recalibrating if necessary must also be part of a healthy routine. Hugs, C

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  9. I have a friend who has habits that may border on obsessions. She has a routines that she can’t deviate from. I enjoy being with her, but I understand that she has her routine and if I want to spend time with her, I need to hang out with her while she’s doing what she always does. As far as addictions, I view them as negative. I think that’s what society does. It can be over exercising to drinking or drugs that are harmful.

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  10. Great questions! I agree in thinking that habits are good. It adds structure to your life. But if life happens and throws you a curveball, and you can’t practice your regular habits for a day or two, do you freak out? If so, than I think your habit has become an addiction.
    Obsessionz become bad when it’s the only thing that consumes your mind. You can LOVE doing something a lot and there isn’t a problem like that. We should all havd things we are passionate about BUT if it takes over our life than there is a problem!
    Like the person addicted to gaming who won’t get a job because he wants to game 24 hours a day! Thats a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t see any upside to addiction or obsession, really. Habits can go either way. I’m not sure I see the connection between the three, except that some habits could conceivably become addictions. Mostly I like having routines in life (and they make the dogs happy), but if they are disrupted, no big deal.

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  12. Interesting question. I regard all three as being on the same spectrum, with habits being on the innocent end, except that for some people, habits can become the gateway to addiction and/or obsession.

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  13. I’m sure I have habits, but I don’t generally think of them as positive. Probably because I prefer variety and don’t like feeling “stuck”. Habits, to me, feel like “stuck”.

    I’ve been an addict for much of my life. It is in NO way a pleasant thing, and has come with a high price. I’m now in recovery, and very grateful for that. Addiction is never a good thing. And to me, if you don’t end up laying on the cold tile bathroom floor, puking your guts out, wishing you could die, then your “caffeine addiction” is not an addiction. It’s a preference and a way of living. In addition to other things, I am a caffeine addict. My body craves it, and consuming it will feel great for a bit, and then deathly. Therefore, I cannot and am very careful not to consume caffeine.

    Obsession: oof. To me, that word comes with other words like “unreasonable” and “tunnel vision”. The behavior of obsession will necessarily exclude others and their healthy perspectives. It is extremism and cannot be healthy or justified.

    Just my .02 😏

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  14. Usually, an addiction is something that is compulsive, that the person cannot stop/control, that leads to a negative consequence. It’s also usually tied to doing something to assuage something else (i.e., a drug addiction is created out of lack of love of one’s parents).

    Habits can be broken, and so can addictions, but generally speaking, it takes a lot to break an addiction, and the desire for the thing is rarely completely gone.

    Kinda like we discussed with the word “love,” I think people throw the word addiction around, when really they just mean habit.

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  15. I never gave much thought to the differences between those three terms, but I agree with the way you define them all. And I can’t help but think of rock ‘n roll:

    The woman in the Chicago song was a “Hard Habit to Break.”
    Robert Plant said you might as well face it, you’re “Addicted to Love.”

    And then there’s Animotion. Holy shit, “Obsession” is on a whole different level:

    I will have you, yes, I will have you
    I will find a way, and I will have you
    Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly
    I will collect you and capture you
    You are an obsession, you’re my obsession
    Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me?
    You are an obsession, you’re my obsession
    Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me?

    Creepy AF…

    Liked by 1 person

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