Our brains are wired for habits, especially for the pleasant ones. This is the reason why we like to drink alcohol, eat junk food, smoke, and so on. These habits release dopamine in the brain, and thus, it makes us feel food. If we continue with these habits, we become addicted, as we constantly need to feel the pleasure. It is the same thing which happens with the drug users. If they do not take drugs, they stop feeling pleasure, and they feel the negative side effects.
How bad habits work?
Omar Manejwala, medical director of the Minnesota addiction treatment programs at Hazelden, stated that the brain loves habits, or habitual behaviors, because they are familiar and comfortable. This is why it is so difficult to quit bad habits, and to develop new ones. The brain likes the bad ones because they are familiar, and dislikes the new ones, as they are unknown.
There are certain things people can do in order to eliminate these habits.
One of the most important things we could do is to find the trigger, the reason why we have these habits. We do it because it feels good. This is the reason why some eat too much, others drink each night, and so on. We might eat in order to relieve loneliness, or we might drink in order to eliminate anxiety. Doctors recommend writing down the emotions we feel when we do the habit, the hour, and so on.
In reality people do not eliminate a habit; they just replace it with something else. Because of this, it is important to find a healthy substitute for the bad habit. For example, instead of playing video games for one hour, you could go running, walking, and so on. It is very important to keep on repeating them, because by doing that, the brain will get used to them, and it will form a habit.
How to take care of the problem?
It is very important to look into the future. The problem is that we like to feel pleasure right away, and because of that, it is very difficult to kick the habit. For example, we feel pleasure from eating. We could tell ourselves that by eating healthier we will be healthier in the future, but the pleasure from eating is stronger. It is very important to train ourselves to see the future benefits instead of the instant pleasure.
Many people quit trying if they don’t succeed from the beginning. It has been discovered that the more times we try to quit something, the higher the chances are for us to succeed. It is very important to get support from the people that are close to us. For example, in case you want to lose weight, your partner should help you. It is much easier to stick to the healthy eating if the other one does the same, than if he/she eats only junk food. Moral support is very important as well, because it allows you to keep going. You should find someone you trust in order to be your crutch. This is why the former drug users or alcoholics have a sponsor, someone they can call at any hour for support.