Green’s Dictionary of Slang

habit n.

[note that earliest cits. are more SE than sl., e.g. in 1887, ‘May he continue to wage war against Chinese opium dens until the habit has been swept entirely out of existence’; and the term was adopted by drug users in the 1910s. Note ‘William Lee’, Junkie (1953): ‘A junk habit. It takes at least a month of daily use to get a needle habit, two months for a smoking habit, four months for an eating habit.’]

1. [late 19C+] (drugs) a drug addiction, usu. to an opiate; thus the sense of needing more drugs to sustain physical comfort.

2. [20C+] ext. to other addictions.

3. attrib. use of sense 2.

4. [1920s–30s] withdrawal symptoms.

In phrases

bend the habit (v.)

[1950s] (drugs) to decrease one’s narcotics intake in an attempt to withdraw from addiction.

chippie habit (n.) (also chippy habit) [chippie v.1 (1) ]

[1930s+] (drugs) the occasional use of a narcotic, rather than the regular use necessitated by addiction.

feed one’s habit (n.) (also feed one’s gorilla) [1950s+] (drugs)

1. to habitually consume any drug or alcohol.

2. to inject oneself with a narcotic, usu. heroin.

get one’s habits on (v.)

[1920s–30s] to be using narcotics; to be drunk.

get the habit off (n.)

[1930s] (drugs) to take enough of a narcotic to stop the pain of withdrawal.

have a habit (v.)

[1930s] (drugs) to be suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

kick the habit (v.) (also boot the habit, break..., bust..., kick one’s habit, kick out one’s habit)

1. [1920s+] (drugs) to stop taking an addictive drug, usu. heroin (cf. kick v.4 (1)).

2. [1950s+] in fig. use, to stop doing something.

lamp habit (n.) [the SE lamp at which the opium pipe is lit] (drugs)

1. [1930s–40s] the passive inhalation of opium, which over a period can lead to addiction.

2. [1930s–50s] an opium addiction.

mouth habit (n.)

[1930s–50s] (US drugs) the consumption of narcotics orally and the subsequent addiction.

smoke the habit off (v.)

1. [1930s] to smoke enough to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

2. [1930s–50s] (US drugs) of an opium user, to smoke heavily after a period of abstinence.

stomach habit (n.)

[1950s–70s] (drugs) heroin addiction (through inhalation rather than injection).