Friday night topic: Addictions and quitting

In my experience, quite a few techie types tend to smoke, and a lot of them have struggled with attempts to quit. If that's you, I'm wondering: have you succeeded in quitting, and how hard was it?

I have to say, I'm not entirely sure I can relate to that struggle, but perhaps I'm wrong. My only real addiction is to caffeine—coffee, specifically—and I haven't tried to quit that in literally years. I once gave up coffee for a week in early adulthood, and although I got over the headaches, I decided the loss of energy wasn't worth it. Went back to the bean and never tried to quit again. Don't really mind.

I also wonder how different people are in terms of the propensity to addiction. For instance, the modern, fashionable thing is to portray drug use as destructively and irresistibly addictive, which it surely can be, as the recent and tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman reminds us. However, some folks seem to be capable of experimenting with such things without succumbing to addiction.

In Arthur Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes stories, Sherlock used cocaine and opium with few negative consequences. He was extraordinary in that way, just as he was in others. His true addiction was to the stimulation of his mind. In modern portrayals, though, the character of Holmes (or House) is both a sociopath and an addict whose drug use has clear negative consequences and a lasting allure.

Is one of these portrayals more "right" than the other, or is there truth in each of them? Are some people less prone to addiction and its negative consequences, or are such portrayals just fantasy? Discuss.

(Oh, and thanks to TR reader Kannan for his topic suggestion.)

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