Alice Smellie [yes, I know!] says she used to consume six stones of the stuff a year, admittedly not by direct addition but by ignorance of how much sugar is hidden in everyday food and drink. Okay, we all eat too much sugar, but 'addicted'? Come on! She claims withdrawal symptoms ensued after she regulated her intake, but then homeopaths claim their remedies - and not just the placebo effect - can cure cancer!
Disengagement from habitual over-indulgence in pretty much anything will cause withdrawal symptoms. Teenagers get bored when their ration of mind-numbing computer time-wasting comes to an end. Parents get hangovers the day after they've had a couple 'to take the edge off'. The news media are going to have one hell of a jolt back to reality when all the millions of prowling paedophiles have been finally rounded up. But, addiction?
I'm not knocking what Alice has done; far from it. I know we eat way too much added, processed sugar. But I'm buggered if I'm going to stand idly by and let yet another 'addiction' enter the national consciousness. How long before some doctor, somewhere, writes a sick note for sugar addiction withdrawal, prescribes diet Coke and bed rest and spawns a whole new avenue for skiving off and claiming disability?
When it comes down to it, true addiction is rare and what most people imagine as addiction is nothing, more or less, than lacking the will power (or inclination) to give something up. From chocolate, to cigarettes, from coffee to alcohol, from gaming to gambling and from pain-killers to heroin, we use and sometimes abuse; because we can, because it gives us pleasure and because, in the main, it doesn't do a great deal of harm.
But once we recognise we have a habit we are reluctant to eschew, we all too readily rely on 'the guvmint' to do something about our habit. Calling it an addiction legitimises what may otherwise be shameful. Use the word 'addict' and suddenly it's not your fault any more; you're a helpless victim of a cruel and uninvited assault on your feeble body and mind, powerless to resist without plenty of soothing public money to dress your wounds.