6 Major Fallacies in "I Can't Quit My Addictive Behavior!"

Pleasures are not addictive. You decide to addict yourself to them.

Posted Feb 27, 2018

To make my case, I'm using an addiction to smoking illustratively. Yet my reasoning applies across the board to all addictions, including addictions to video games, sex, relationships, shopping, and the addiction to comfort. 

There are problems with claims an individual has no power or control in the face of a smoking addiction and has an irresistible impulse to smoke when they say they wish to stop:

1. It’s circular thinking. When smokers believe their impulse to smoke is irresistible, they don’t attempt to resist their impulse. Then they view having failed to exercise control as confirmation they have none, thus using their failure as “proof” the impulse is irresistible.

2. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of their circular thinking, they continue to smoke as if they were powerless.

3. People quit regularly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2002 the number of former U.S. smokers has exceeded the number of current smokers.

5. Smoking involves these complex chain of behaviors: determining the type of business carrying cigarettes, locating a store that sells them, mapping out a route to the store, driving or walking to the store, obtaining money to purchase the cigarettes, making the transaction, opening the cigarette pack, removing the cigarette, lighting up, inhaling. Whereas quitting involves doing nothing.

4. Cigarettes are inanimate objects. They have no will or power of their own to force a person to smoke. The only irresistible human behaviors do not involve tobacco: blinking, sneezing, convulsing, falling asleep, twitching, and others. Even a starving individual’s strong urge to eat can be resisted. In 1981 Bobby Sands, an IRA hunger-striker, died of self-imposed starvation in prison after choosing to refuse food for 66 days as part of a political protest. Certainly, then, a person experiencing the urge or craving to smoke can resist.

6. Smoking cigarettes is a choice even in cases where an individual requires the regular ingestion of nicotine for some reason. It can be obtained from nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nicotine sprays, nicotine inhalers, and e-cigarettes.