8 Ways to Tell if Your Habit is an Addiction and What to Do Next

Updated: Jul 14

If you have picked up a calming diversion or treat to “get through the day” and it has become a habit… you are not alone. If you are wondering if your habit is an addiction, this is also a common concern these days. At the start of the pandemic, Americans turned to alcohol, substances, and porn (amongst other things) to soothe themselves.


According to Nielsen consumer market measurements, during the first week of lockdown, spirit sales were up 75%, wine by 66%, and beer up by 42%. For those too afraid to venture out to a liquor store, online sales of all types of alcohol were up by 243%. Marijuana sales in states where purchases are legal were elevated to a degree where some stores are unable to keep up with demand. Pornography consumption went up almost immediately: Pornhub reported a 22% increase in April of 2020 compared to March. Self-soothing in unhealthy ways was quite normal for American adults.

When a person of any age uses something to comfort themselves that item/substance is referred to as a “coping mechanism.” When we are children, that can easily be a favorite blanket. As we grow older, people can turn to other, less healthy sources, like cigarettes, vaping, alcohol, drugs, porn, etc. The comfort of home amidst a pandemic and an increase in privacy gave the opportunity for adults to turn to vices as coping devices. Daily habits may have turned into an addiction.


“What often illuminates that a new habit is not sustainable is the change in schedule to hybrid work and more in-person activities. It is the change in lifestyle that is a lever in this situation, allowing people’s perspectives to shift. For example, the habit of, say, a glass of wine at 2:30 in the afternoon is a coping mechanism for unprecedented stress. However, now having to either work in the office a few days a week or perhaps to now have to drive to pick up a child that is in school (versus virtual) illuminates that this habit is maybe an issue,” said Beth Siegert, CPC, CPRC, ACC, CFAA, Executive Coach with a special niche in recovery from addiction. “What often illuminates that a new habit is not sustainable is the change in schedule to hybrid work and more in-person activities. It is the change in lifestyle that is a lever in this situation, allowing people’s perspectives to shift.” Beth Siegert, CPC, CPRC, ACC, CFAA“People have been wondering what to do when they discover that they have become rather reliant or even addicted to their coping mechanism. Across the country, alcohol, porn, online shopping, and vaping are some of the more common issues we are seeing. Interestingly, Human Resources departments are starting to take notice as well,” she said. 8 Ways to Tell if Your Habit is an Addiction Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to assess if you have a problem or an addiction:

  • Do you have difficulty passing up an opportunity to utilize alcohol, a substance like marijuana, vaping, porn, or gambling/gaming?

  • Do you plan your day around your habit?

  • Do you think about drinking, using a substance, porn, shopping, or gambling/gaming while working or driving?

  • Has a loved one or friend mentioned your habit to you?

  • Has your employer mentioned to you that they have noticed a “change of attitude/productivity” or more directly, your drinking and/or substance use?

  • Do your children notice your habit?

  • Does your usage of alcohol, a substance, porn, shopping, gambling/gaming interfere with your work life?

  • Does your usage of alcohol, a substance, porn, shopping, gambling/gaming interfere with your home life?

Sometimes people need to get back on course and need trained professionals (and sometimes medical assistance) to achieve that goal. Depending on the substance or volume of alcohol, quitting “cold turkey” may not be a medically safe option for an individual.

What To Do Next

  • Seek out objective, non-judgemental advice. A good first call to make is to your physician. When calling to make an appointment, mention that you have some private health concerns that you need to speak to someone about and need an appointment as soon as possible. Once at your appointment, some good phrasing to use to start out the conversation might be, “I am concerned about my use of____. Can we talk more about this?”

  • Understand that there is a path to recovery. Take notes on what you are being advised to do.

  • Commit to understanding that recovery is a daily practice. Some days will be more difficult than others.

  • Consider working with a recovery coach to map out how you will be successful at recovery. A non-judgemental alliance with a trained expert on recovery can be a powerful source of encouragement, understanding, and accountability.

  • Recognize that you are not alone: there are over 20 million Americans in recovery.

For more insight, please contact Beth Siegert, CPC, CPRC, ACC, CFAA at info@siegertandassociates.com or call 877.449.6393.

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