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. (drugs) a drug addiction, usu. to an opiate, but note cit. 1992; thus the sense of needing more drugs to sustain physical comfort.

L. Keeley Morphine Eater n.p.: It is in this way that the victim of the opium habit becomes a helpless captive before he is aware.
[NZ]Ashburton Guardian (NZ) 6 May 2/3: The Czar of Russia drank five pints of champagne a day. he is also said to have become a victim of the opium habit.
[UK]Mirror of Life 27 Jan. 7/4: [S]he is again loaded up with the drug [until] she becomes a slave to the habit.
[US]E.W. Townsend A Daughter of the Tenements 224: ‘The habit’ is the term the smokers use to express a recurrence of the craving for the drug.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 271: So yer agin the dope [...] I used to smoke onct in a while, but I didn’t never git no habit.
[US]Wash. Post 3 July 3/1: If the rube hadn’t been fixed to stay away and Hoppy had got a finif fer dippin’ inter his prat-kick, he’d had plenty of time ter saw off his habit.
[NZ]Truth Perth) 9 Apr. 8/8: She did tell the Central Beak, sir, / That she'd knock the habit off.
[UK]‘Sax Rohmer’ Dope 158: She wrote a prescription containing one grain of cocaine, but declined firmly to issue others unless Rita authorized her, in writing, to undertake a cure of the drug habit. [Ibid.] 211: I had hoped to cure Rita of the habit.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 191: ‘A fierce habit’ means that the addict must have from eight to ten pills at least twice a day.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 99: Come on and give Johnny-Come-Lately his first pill. You know I got a habit.
[US]Q. Reynolds Police Headquarters (1956) 269: None had actually been physiologically hooked; each had what the narcotics men call a ‘chicken habit’.
[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 99: I’d never heard him speak about his habit much.
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 22: A girl goes down there and in a couple of years she’s a veteran whore with a habit a mile long.
[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 119: She also knew she was developing a habit.
[US]C. White Life and Times of Little Richard 177: A habit like mine cost a lot of money.
[US]T. Williams Crackhouse 49: I think this cocaine is a bad habit. A very bad habit.
[UK]Indep. 10 Jan. 6: It then became a matter of trying to support my habit.
[Aus]P. Temple Dead Point (2008) [ebook] The nasty coke habit and the gambling don’t help.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 114: One look at Syd’s baby blues and I know she has a habit the size of Godzilla riding her back.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 50: Michael’s dope habit eclipses what little sense he has.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 382: Ah’ve been pertyin A bit too much, and got masel ah wee habit.
[Aus]G. Disher Heat [ebook] Mainly he was a drug user. He needed money to pay for his habit.
[Ire]L. McInerney Glorious Heresies 37: A lot of them stocked up only to feed their habits.
[US]D. Winslow Border [ebook] A habit that cost up to three hundred dollars a day.
[UK]G. Krauze What They Was 119: He’ll be happy with a few hundred pounds just to feed his habit.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 4: I dumped the dish on his dope habit and call-girl cavalcade .

2. ext. to other addictions.

[[UK]R. L’Estrange Fables of Aesop CLVI 141: A Woman that lay under the Mortification of a Fudling Husband,[...] says she, the Humour I perceive has taken Possession of him; He has gotten a Habit].
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 69: A fast young man about town, with the two-up habit and a congenial beer thirst.
[US]O.O. McIntyre Day By Day in New York 7 Apr. [synd. col.] The Castles [...] who danced their way into the limousine habit from obscurity .
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 82: The habit had fastened on him. He became a fiend for gambling.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 283: The Drink Habit — [...] The woman who drinks in spite of her determination not to drink.
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 130: Here’s to the drink habit.
[US]E. De Roo Go, Man, Go! 50: You’re my habit, rabbit.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 9: She used to spot a light mule habit [...] But she wrote and told me she was trying to quit.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 243: [of wine] ‘You, you blind meatball, you can’t even support a sneaky pete habit’.
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 95: I keep up my candy and cigarette habit by trimming suckers playing poker.

3. attrib. use of sense 2.

[US]S. Crane in Sun (N.Y.) 20 Oct. in Stallman (1966) 144: Habit smokers have a contempt for the sensation smoker, who has been won by the false glamour which surrounds the vice.

4. withdrawal symptoms.

[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 135: The shortage that menaced my two hypo friends and the sufferings they would undergo when there was no more and the ‘habit’ came on.

In phrases

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

(drugs) the occasional use of a narcotic, rather than the regular use necessitated by addiction.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 100/2: chippy-habit. A type of indulgence in which the user takes only a small amount of narcotic at irregular intervals.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore 29: Chippy habit – The drug habit, esp. the taking of small amounts of a narcotic by a semi-addict, now and then.
[US]Cressey & Ward Delinquency, Crime, and Social Process 822: It is extremely rare for a person to resume a ‘chippy habit’ once he has experienced being hooked.
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words 66: Chippy user [...] a person who uses cocaine very occasionally in order to avoid becoming addicted, which is also known as having a chippy habit or a coffee-and-cake habit or a Saturday-night habit.
[US]Courtwright & Des Jarlais Addicts Who Survived 63: Some individuals manage to use it occasionally [...] Narcotic users themselves have long recognized this pattern, and have a host of names for it: ‘weekend habit,’ ‘chicken-shit habit,’ ‘ice-cream habit,’ ‘Saturday-night habit,’ ‘chippy habit’.
feed one’s habit (n.) (also feed one’s gorilla)(drugs)

1. to habitually consume any drug or alcohol.

[US]N. Algren ‘Watch Out for Daddy’ in Entrapment (2009) 145: Letting her Little Daddy kick his habit cold turtkey in Cook County Jail while she went on feeding her own.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Golden Spike 17: They had gone into business to ‘feed’ their habits.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 43: They keep wanting handouts, cause of course they have to feed their habits.
[Ire]Patrick McCabe Mondo Desperado 14: Wrong is two little babies sleeping upstairs while their mother sneaks out to some forsaken sleazehole to feed her habit; wrong is popping Quaaludes and shovelling gin like it’s going out of fashion!
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Leaving Bondi (2013) [ebook] ‘Was he dealing?’ ‘Not in a big way. Mainly to feed his habit’.

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

[US]E. Hunter Second Ending 303: The loot you dug up to feed your gorilla.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 143: Scar fed his habit and floated.
get one’s habits on (v.)

to be using narcotics; to be drunk.

[US]Clara Smith ‘Good Looking Papa Blues’ 🎵 Oh good-looking papa: where have you been so long / Oh dough-spreading papa: you got your habits on.
[US]Lucille Bogan ‘Sloppy Drunk Blues’ 🎵 Mmm: bring me another two-bit pint. / Because I got my habits on: I’m going to wreck this joint.
[US] Bessie Smith ‘Take Me for a Buggy Ride’ 🎵 Daddy you really knows your stuff: when you take me for a buggy ride. / I like you when you got your habits on: you can shift a gear with so much pride.
get the habit off (n.)

(drugs) to take enough of a narcotic to stop the pain of withdrawal.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 1 in AS XI:2 121/2: get the habit off. To indulge in narcotics; to satisfy a desire intensified by abstinence.
have a habit (v.)

(drugs) to be suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981).
kick the habit (v.) (also boot the habit, break..., bust..., kick one’s habit, kick out one’s habit)

1. (drugs) to stop taking an addictive drug, usu. heroin; the word habit is implied in cit. 1952 (cf. kick v.4 (1)).

[US]F. Williams Hop-Heads 25: Whenever I get a ‘jolt’ in the can (county jail) they make me ‘kick out’ my habit in the ‘tanks’.
[US]R.J. Tasker Grimhaven 163: A sick user who is ‘kicking the habit’ will do practically anything for dope.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Junker Lingo’ in AS VIII:2 28: An addict who is endeavouring to break himself of the drug habit voluntarily is kicking the habit.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 100/1: To break or break the habit. 1. To kick the habit.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 188: It’ll be my chance to kick the habit for keeps.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Golden Spike 30: You’ll only go back on twice as hard. You got to bust it slowlike. [Ibid.] 47: I’m going to cold turkey it. That’s the hard way but the only way to bust my habit.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 159: Did he want to kick the habit? Johnnie was doubtful. He said, ‘The junk don’t hurt you.’.
[US]Rigney & Smith Real Bohemia 61: I’ve been trying to boot the habit for the past three months. Right now, I’m clean.
[US]Larner & Tefferteller Addict in the Street (1966) 193: I didn’t kick no habit in the Tombs.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Detroit Redhead’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 111: I had of course kicked my habit—cold turkey—while in prison.
[US]L. Bing Do or Die (1992) xv: Killer coke habits [...] they kicked right after—or just before—John Belushi’s death.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 55: They put them all together in a rehab [...] and they’re supposed to help each other kick the habit.

2. in fig. use, to stop doing something.

[US]G. Lea Somewhere There’s Music 35: She tells me I should kick my habits and figure out what i really want out of life besides six lonely nights a week in a juice joint.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 126: Eventually, due to pressures of Affairs of State, I kicked the habit of going to confession personally.
lamp habit (n.) [the SE lamp at which the opium pipe is lit] (drugs)

1. the passive inhalation of opium, which over a period can lead to addiction.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 104/2: lamp-habit. [...] 3. A slight habit acquired by breathing the smoke and vapor from the lamps in an opium den.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 190: Prostitutes whose Pekes and Pomeranians often acquired a ‘lamp habit’ from breathing the smoke.

2. an opium addiction.

[US]B. Dai Opium Addiction in Chicago.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 104/2: lamp-habit. 1. An excessive or continuous desire for opium. An addict with such a desire is said to have a lamphabit because he likes to see the alcohol lamp used in opium-smoking lit continuously.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.
mouth habit (n.)

(US drugs) the consumption of narcotics orally and the subsequent addiction.

[US]B. Dai Opium Addiction in Chicago.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 106/1: mouth-habit. 1. A narcotic habit which is satisfied by taking narcotics orally. Found chiefly among beginners and accidental addicts [...] 2. Specifically, an opium habit which is sustained by swallowing the yen-pok with black coffee.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.
smoke the habit off (v.)

1. to smoke enough to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 117: ‘I smoke my habit off before going to bed and I smoke my habit off when I wake up in the morning.’ To smoke her habit off meant to take enough opium to protect her from pain and anxiety.

2. (US drugs) of an opium user, to smoke heavily after a period of abstinence.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 1 in AS XI:2 126/1: To smoke the habit off. For an addict to recuperate by indulgence after a period of abstinence.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.
stomach habit (n.)

(drugs) heroin addiction (through inhalation rather than injection).

[US]Current Sl. III–IV (Cumulation Issue).