lhsi writes "A recent publication on the British Medical Journal finds that stopping smoking improves mental health: "Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis" (CC BY-NC 3.0).
A lot of smokers claim that smoking has mental health benefits; reducing depression and anxiety, and for relaxation and relieving stress. However the study suggests this is likely mis-attributing the ability of cigarettes to abolish nicotine withdrawal as a beneficial effect on mental health. The study notes that some health professionals are reluctant to recommend stopping smoking as a way to help mental health problems due to the fear that it might make things worse, but this study suggests that it actually would help.
The main conclusion of the study:
Smoking cessation is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke. The effect size seems as large for those with psychiatric disorders as those without. The effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders."
You may be an outlier, but not much of one since you did experience withdrawal symptoms. But you were no more addicted than someone waking up with a hangover is necessarily an alcoholic -- part of what a hangover is is withdrawal from alcohol.
Like most people have no problem drinking without becoming an alcoholic, you seem to be that way with cigarettes.
Addictive substances have physical withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from alcohol or heroin can be fatal.
One needs to understand the difference between addiction and habituation. There is no such thing as "gambling addiction". That's habituation, and habituation can be more powerful than physical addiction. I found that at least in my case, the habituation to cigarettes was far stronger than the addiction. Of course, I'd smoked daily for three decades.
I quit by using the patches, so I was still getting my dose of drug -- there were only withdrawal symptoms when I cut the dose down. But I still constantly wanted a cigarette, even though I was getting the drug.
One can get habituated to anything. Like I mentioned in The Paxil Diaries, if there's an albatross hanging around your neck for 27 years and one day it disappears, you'll miss the albatross. If you have a glass of orange juice every morning before you drink your coffee for five years and all of a sudden can no longer get orange juice, you are going to suffer from your "orange juice addiction". Of course, this is even stronger when the pleasure centers of your brain are stimulated more than orange juice is capable of.
Likewise, if you start smoking pot when you're thirteen and smoke daily until you're 23, you're going to have a hard time stopping, even though there is no physical addiction (same as gambling).
I'm a long time reeferhead, started in 1971 when I was 19. Sometimes it's dry, at times I've been broke and couldn't afford it. But when I smoked cigarettes if I was out of money and had a choice between a cig and a joint, I would have chosen the cig every time. And come to think of it, if I could only have coffee tomorrow morning if I went without pot tonight, I'd go without pot. I'm worthless without my coffee, I'm hopelessly addicted to caffiene.
There is no such thing as "gambling addiction".
Different people use words differently. I'm pretty sure that statement is highly debatable. I recall various science reports of chemical effects of gambling on the brain. I don't believe it requires chemical ingestion to stimulate chemical processes in the brain.
Some people _define_ addiction as something which you would be willing to sell your firstborn child for to not go without. Those people are zealots and do more harm IMO to the discussion than benefit. Life is not that black and white. There are levels of addiction, and levels of habituation, and levels of psychological and physiological withdrawel symtoms.
You are free to discuss the issue as you wish (as am I). I just think you are innapropriately turning it into a black/white issue with statements such as "Niccotine is like any other addictive drug -- once you're an addict, you're an addict for life.". What is your scientific test that you can perform on a person to determine if they are an addict? And this- "But smoke one single cigarette and you'll be back to a pack a day in less than a week.". I guess you are defining your scientific addiction test as this latter, but must the subject have a firstborn and an island where the price of that carton of cigarretes is their firstborn to make your determination? Or do you have an alternate blood test available? MRI brainscan? I'm just saying the world involves a lot more shades of gray than I think you give it credit for. And when you speak about addiction in such black and white terms, I think many people who have legitimate issues they may be trying to self-educate about will tune out anything else educational you have to say.
Different people use words differently.
Indeed, and they've been bending the word "addiction" for quite some time, even in medical circles. That's a bad thing IMO, as addiction is physical and habituation is mental (or was, the distinction isn't really being looked at closely any more). I see that Wikipedia makes the distinction with only the nomenclature changed; now, habituation is called addiction and addiction is called "Physiological dependence".
As to "once an addict, always an addict" there are usually exceptions to any rule, but those in the field of addiction will all tell you that. They do have tests to determine whether or not one is an addict. I'm not in the field, but I do know those who are.