Bad habits give clues to behavior problems

By Brittany Lavin
December 1, 2006

A habit can be defined as an acquired behavior pattern that is regularly followed. Habits can be good, bad or even both. However, bad habits tend to have a strong hold on both mind and behavioral patterns. They can also be hard to break, as most college students probably know.

College is usually the first time a lot of students are away from home. This kind of newfound freedom may cause problems. Most bad habits that are picked up while in college are the result of personal choices or peer pressure.

Bad habits such as alcohol and drug abuse or eating disorders are extreme and are difficult to break. Other less extreme habits may include procrastination, temper control or even watching too much television.

According to, a study done by MIT in October 2005 showed that while habits are hard to break, they are easy to resume. For example, smoking is probably one of the hardest habits to break and one of the easiest to resume.

According to an article published about the University of Connecticut Health Center, there are numerous ways to kick bad habits and even more experts who can help. These experts include therapists, hypnotists and life coaches. According to the article, the formation of bad habits may be a result of emotional issues such as anxiety, fear or anger.

“People need ways to manage these stressors,” Debbie Mendal, the author of “Changing Habits: The Caregivers’ Total Workout for Those Sandwiched Between Children, Aging Parents and Work,” said in the article.

The article also states that the first thing to do when trying to kick a bad habit is not focusing on the behavior that needs to be changed, but the reason the habit developed in the first place.

Once this is figured out, positive ways of breaking the habit can be formed. Experts also suggest starting small and taking one issue at a time when trying to break a habit. This is a technique for less extreme habits, but the article stresses that more extreme habits such as alcohol and drug abuse require treatment and help from professionals and peers.

Perhaps one of the best ways to break a bad habit is to try and replace it with a better, healthier one. However, be sure to remember the old saying: “Old habits die hard.”

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Brittany Lavin

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