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Updated: Aug 28, 2020

What is an addiction? It's a habit that is causing you harm. It's not a scientific term and so you can say you're addicted to anything really. Although be suspicious of anyone who says they're addicted to sex. They probably just want to have sex a lot. Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and nicotine. The medical term for an addiction which someone finds it difficult to stop is dependence. People with dependence may need specialist help.

This week we're going to talk about bad habits and how to break them.

What kind of person are you? Some people are able to drink occasionally and in moderation. Some people's makeup means that they just can't make sensible decisions about drinking once they've started. Some people are also like this with food. It's important to know yourself in this regard. Give yourself the best chance by not putting yourself in the situation. For instance some people can open a box of chocolates and have one. But some people if they have one have to have the whole box. That's just the way some people's brains work. That’s what Dr Iain is like with Percy Pigs. That’s why he’s not allowed Percy Pigs.

A lot of people are drinking more that is healthy.

There are good things about alcohol. Ask yourself - what does it do for you? Does is help you relax? Socialise? Stop overthinking?

What is not so good about alcohol for you? What bad effects does it have?. Obviously large amounts of alcohol cause serious heart, liver and brain problems. But even lower amounts can affect day to day health. Especially important:

1. Alcohol disrupts the stages of sleep (even if you fall asleep quicker - that's why you don't feel refreshed the next morning)

2. Alcohol has a lot of calories - that's why it can be difficult to maintain a healthy weight if you are drinking often

3. In some people alcohol makes the blood pressure shoot up which has lots of serious health consequences.

What are habits and how do we change them?

Habits are composed of Cue->Behaviour->Reward.

For smoking a cigarette for instance the CUE is the thing that makes you think: Ooh, I’d like a cigarette. For example finishing a meal.

The BEHAVIOUR is smoking the cigarette.

The REWARD is the feeling you get after smoking. This might actually be because you got up, stretched your legs, went outside, socialised etc...

The trick to changing a behaviour is to keep the cue and reward the same and change the behaviour. For example Ginger’s friend gave up cigarettes by going outside and drawing a picture of a cigarette when he felt like smoking. He got the same reward of a break from work and a chat with his colleagues.

Tips for cutting down your drinking:

● If you're out with friends mix have a soft drink or water every second drink

● If it's an option go somewhere other than the pub to socialise

● At home avoid drinking during the week - it will affect your sleep and stress levels the next day; If you do have a drink - leave some time before bed so that you can process the alcohol and sleep will be less affected.

For more information about healthy and unhealthy drinking visit:

Some habits are fairly harmless - like a lot of social media. The only cost being the loss of opportunity that you could be doing something more nourishing like spending time with actual people. But sometimes the harms are more subtle. For instance - is Instagram making you feel terrible about your body? Is Facebook making you angry all the time? Ask yourself if your social media use is harming you in these subtle ways - maybe it's time to replace some of your social media time with something else. Tune in tomorrow for some tips.

Instead of trying to STOP doing a bad habit it helps to think about it differently. After all the habit is probably at least partly enjoyable. Don't say that you are going to lose something. Instead think: “I want to be free of this behaviour”. Then it feels like an opportunity rather than a sacrifice.

If you think you may have a more serious alcohol problem visit:

To find alcohol services in your area:

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