Could Drinking Coke Be More Addictive Than Snorting It?

Cocaine: Often referred to as “coke,” it’s an illicit drug derived from the coca plant. In 2001 it was estimated to cause less than 100 deaths per year in the US.

Coca Cola: a soda containing a high concentration of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), used to sweeten the drink. Sodas with HFCS were linked to 180,000 deaths in 2010. And despite what the Corn Refiners Association tell you, HFCS is not natural.

Now the numbers don’t lie. Both substances are clearly harmful to the body – except only one of them is illegal (and look how little that death toll is). In fact, only one of them is even frowned upon. Our society is so happy to be nannyed on some things but not others, despite the evidence.

Many will say it’s irresponsible or even counter-productive to draw comparisons between an illicit drug like cocaine and sodas such as coke. But there are just so many similarities… other than the name (as ironic as it is).

In fact new research presented by addiction expert Francesco Leri at the 2013 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting suggests we can become physiologically addicted to junk food, just as we can become addicted to hard-drugs. His team found that HFCS can cause behavioral reactions in rats, similar to those produced by addictive drugs.

Leri, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Guelph, says in the press release, “There is now convincing neurobiological and behavioural evidence indicating that addiction to food is possible.”

The “food addiction” hypothesis Professor Leri investigates suggests certain individuals are far more vulnerable to develop an addiction to a type of food than others, for example an addiction to HFCS found in Coke. This small percentage of people could be the ones struggling most with obesity.

“Food addiction” works just the same as cocaine addiction – many people try cocaine, but only a small percentage become addicted. Addiction happens when substance use goes from a positive reinforcement to a negative kind; so over-eating junk food may actually just be a symptom of addiction, with the cause of the entire problem being the food product- in this case sodas containing HFCS.

So we are potentially faced with a scenario in which consuming HFCS is a direct cause of obesity, and – due to the addictive nature of HFCS – the symptoms of obesity include consuming more HFCS. It’s a vicious circle.

Now there will be readers that say we aren’t mice or rats, and we generally don’t consume the high concentration of HFCS used in animal studies (although there are some of us that do!). But the point is HFCS can be addictive, making it one of the key reasons why the obesity health problem is continually getting worse.

And can you honestly say you haven’t met someone addicted to soda? I know many people that would cringe at the idea of simply having water at the dinner table.

Perhaps those that do become addicted to HFCS need far more than calories shown on the menu to help them get clean.

So what are your thoughts on sweets being addictive? Do you know anyone addicted to soda or another HFCS sweetened product?



Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Matt Peake
Matt Peake3 years ago

im ashamed to say im addicted to coke (cola) :(

Paul M.
Paul M3 years ago

Holly L. "Comparing Coca-Cola to Cocaine - gimme a break!" What is your information of refutation? Do you KNOW they cannot be compared?

Taking Ruby W. stats ... "Cocaine deaths = 20 per 100,000 people per year" ... There are 313million people in the US ... that's a lot of 20s.

Paul M.
Paul M3 years ago

Any article that makes us think about the problems of addiction and by association law enforcement against those supplying, or the addicted, is valuable.

There is good work being done at treating addiction-crime as a health issue in various parts of the world (and violence ... "Gary Slutkin: Let's treat violence like a contagious disease" on TED).

CJ R. I find your comment simplistic and unproven. You have no idea what affects other people if you aren't them. I don't have an addictive personality, but I can see just by looking around that addiction is a problem for some people. I couldn't agree with you more "Please people. You don't have to believe all the crap you're told." regarding your own output.

Wait, what if I'm addicted to writing comments to Care2!

Sheila D.
GGmaSAway D4 years ago

After reading this article, I am soooo glad I no longer drink Coke - the soda. I always thought it was the caffeine that I was hooked on - the high you get, that spurt of energy. Before I started drinking only water, you would never see me without my can of coke - or my cups of coffee in the AM. Always told my children to NEVER drink the last can of Coke in fridge "under penalty of death". Thank goodness they never did or I would have been hardpressed to find a suitable replacement for my "death" penalty - maybe being tickled would have been suitable.

wael a.
wael a4 years ago

thank you

Sabrina I.
Past Member 4 years ago

Why drink other things when you can drink water '__' when you're thirsty water is the best!

Dale B.
Dale B4 years ago

I enjoy a couple Pepsi Throwbacks most days. They are made with sugar, which of course isn't good for you, but better than HFCS. I normally drink tea I make that has a very small amount of honey and blueberries. My sweet tooth goes into overdrive at night and I was eating a lot of cookies and ice cream bars. Now, I keep fruit salad on hand all the time and eat that instead. I buy canned pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges and mix them with frozen blueberries and mini marshmallows and will add other fruit (strawberries, bananas etc) that I have around. I wanted to find a way to add more fruit to my diet, I wasn't expecting it to taste so good or not to go to waste.

Andreya C.
Andreya B4 years ago


Geoff P.
Past Member 4 years ago

Unreal or untrue