Oreos & Cocaine…REALLY???

let me think about it please

by Kenneth Justice

~This past week researchers released the findings of a new study; OREOS (the cookie) it turns out are every bit as addictive as cocaine!

Of course, anyone who has ever eaten those black and white cream filled cookies probably knows they can be lethal when it comes to the addictive scale. I suspect that if researchers wanted to continue their study they could find plenty of other white sugar based food products that would rival cocaine and heroin in addictive power…

The phenomena of a food types being addictive is not something new, at least not in my own experience. When I used to work at the rehab clinic I observed an entire host of addictions that aren’t classified in the medical journals;

—) People addicted to falling in love

—) People addicted to fast food

—) People addicted to abuse

There are all sorts of addictions. My certification is in chemical addictions counseling so a large part of my life was spent studying the science of addiction and then working with people in real life and helping them to overcome their addictions.

One of the simple realizations that I came to early in my professional career is that you can’t make someone stop being addicted; they have to choose for themselves to change their behavior. However, once someone chooses to stop their addictive patterns….there is definitely a lot of hope at the end of the tunnel.

But what does this say about food’s such as OREO‘s? Should they be banned? Should retailers be forced to put WARNING labels on packages; “This cookie is extremely addictive”. Should boxes of OREO cookies have pictures of fat people on them with the slogan; “This could be you if you buy this box of cookies!”

While those suggestions seem outlandish its not too far off the mark from what most countries do with the regulation of cigarettes. In Australia cigarettes boxes have pictures of people with lung cancer, in the U.S. warnings cover the entire box…..and yet people still buy them.

A lot of people would like to see any ‘unsafe’ substance outlawed. Yet if anyone wants to see whether or not outlawing substances works; then just look at the United States and its war on drugs which has been a total failure in the decades long task. Billions of dollars have been spent ‘fighting drugs’, lives have been ruined, men and women tossed into jail….and the United States is no closer to ending illegal drug use than when the ‘war’ first began.

I don’t think outlawing products or drugs works. It seems as though history tells us that when you make a food or chemical illegal…..it only exacerbates the problem.

Others believe the answer is education; “People need to be educated about the negative effects of cocaine, cigarettes, alcohol, fill-in-the-blank”. Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock in Siberia for the last thirty years then you are just as aware, as everyone else in the Western World, as to the negative effect of drugs, alcohol, and whatever.

Whether you are the richest suburbanite or the poorest person living in a ghetto….you are fully aware of the dangers of cigarettes.

The same goes with fast food; there isn’t a rich or poor person alive that doesn’t know the average calories in a fast food meal will break even the strongest scales.

Don’t get me wrong….I detest fast food. Those who are close to me know that when I see the Golden Arches my blood pressure increases as I can’t stand the place. But putting aside my detest for fast food, if I’m going to be honest about the problem I have to admit that ‘banning fast food’ is not the answer to preventing addictive behavior.

Just as banning drugs didn’t work. Banning OREO’s or banning fast-food won’t make the slightest difference in helping to curb people’s addictive behavior toward white sugar and other food substances that are unhealthy for you to consume.

One of the things that frustrated me while I worked at the Rehab clinic was that the government would send us addicts as though we could wave a magic wand and make their addiction go away. The false belief exists that if you ‘send someone to a rehab clinic then they will come out healthy‘. Life simply doesn’t work that way. If someone doesn’t want to stop their addictive behavior there is nothing you or I can do about it; Ultimately, people need to become responsible for themselves and for their actions.

Until an addict wants to stop……they will remain an addict. I realize that is a tough pill to swallow but it is the truth.

And lets be honest…not every chemical substance is bad for you….take caffeine for instance…which reminds me; I think I’ll have another cup of coffee.





Categories: Culture & Society

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60 replies

  1. Hey! How about addictive blogs? 😉
    Education is not just the knowledge, it is a way of life. If you can’t afford the way of life (education becoming too expensive to have) you go to substitutes. Not drugs, education.
    People that choose drugs, do it in spite of the addictive nature and the dangers involved, but also because they chose a different source for “education”. I guess you know that there are big myths (I might be conveying one right know) about drugs:
    “once doesn’t make you an addict”,
    “You can always stop”,
    “recreational drugs”
    “soft and hard drugs”
    “Burroughs have been doing it till his 80ies”

    It is not a matter if these statements carry any truth, but actually trusting the sources of education, that are doing it for a profit. (see the resemblence?)

    Anyway, advertising should have some limits. OREO’s addictiveness has much to do with massive advertising. After all they are not even as good as some Greek cookies/biscuits we have.

    And yes, including in the addictiveness description all behaviour that bears the signs, we actually describe the all conquering Consumerism, that is the basis of our society. And if the society was different, I believe that we would have less cases of drug addiction as well.

    • “and if society was different, I believe that we would have less cases of drug addiction”

      Agreed….my senior thesis was on culture and addiction in which I demonstrated that there are cultures out there that have much lower rates of chemical addiction, and I argued that western culture has certain facets which encourages the likelihood of addiction

    • Sounds like a great thesis…love to read it.

      Banning alcohol during Prohibition not only didn’t solve the problem, but it created a bigger one…organized crime.

      Maybe if we emphasized good habits, rather than bad and taught moderation and balance we might get some where.

      I fully agree with your statements regarding addiction and help. No matter what the addiction is, the person has to want to change. The best thing you can do is to create the opportunity that allows someone to make that decision.

      My daughter was a ten year meth addict who dropped out of school in the eight grade. She has been clean for five years and now has an AA degree and is working on her BA. Like any addict, it got ugly before it became good. Knowing that it was really up to her to decide to change, the hardest part was letting her go…so she could make that decision and letting her know that I would still be there for her when she did.

      A study about Oreo’s being addictive makes me think of how unimportant the study was…don’t we have bigger problems to solve???

    • Whenever studies are released like this Oreo one it always makes pause and wonder; was our tax money really best served by this study? I mean, who doesn’t know that Oreos or fast food are addictive?

  2. Last year I read a book called, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us – and as much as anything, it’s a really good yarn. But the story that took the most was about Cheetos. The scientists who designed the Cheeto, described it as the most perfectly constructed snack in history; based on data for fat melting points to the microsecond, salt to sweet ratios; crunchiness based on specific resistance… It had never occurred to me that scientists – ’cause I’d never given it so much as a second thought – were the brains behind snacking – and not just that – the brains behind ‘snacking’! They practically invented it. Not unlike Listerine invented halitaosis to sell mouth-wash.

    I remember 15 years ago or so a short-lived advertising campaign trying to do the same for ‘unsightly ear-wax’.

    I’d recommend it; the book that is…

  3. Oreos are good, but whenever I have them I stick to the suggested serving size of 3 and stop there. It is all a matter of self control.

  4. That’s the problem with addictions and addicts. Many say they want to quit their addiction, but don’t want to expend the effort to do so. Quitting anything is difficult, and takes more willpower than it does to continue abusing.

    • “but don’t want to expend the effort to do so”

      This is exactly why I have concerns with the direction of addictions counseling….too much emphasis is being placed on the method of counseling or the disease of addiction and not enough emphasis is being up in the responsibility of the addict

  5. It is not about the substance that addicts. It is the feeling it gives you. Banning things because they are addictive? we might as well be dead. There are people addicted of sports or even health foods because of the feeling it gives them. Ban that to?
    We all know that TO MUCH of something is bad, but we still carry on doing it.
    Had my fair share of addictions and still do. Black lungs on a package do nothing for me.Seen worse on telly. Black teeth pictures from smoking? nope still got them all no care in the world. Addictive sure, make it two packs please. Tobacco i roll myself even.
    It will not work I am being banned from restaurants, coffee shops for it.I find a way to keep having both. But let me make that choice that’s all i am asking, do not tell me I need to quit or else. I think the whole way people look at those things is just wrong. They look at the substance first before looking at the people using them.
    I am being looked at as a smoker not a person. I am a coffee addict before i am human.I am a fat person who needs to pay more for insurance before they look at ME. I am healthy says the doctor so what is with the whole you are worse then me attitude. perspectives as you so elegantly put it yesterday. I am guilty before anything else.
    Thank you for a wonderful post that does get me angry because of how people start to see you when addicted. Thank you for letting me rant.

  6. The same can be said about co-dependents who are being abused by Narcissists. They have to choose to leave the situation, but often are mentally and bio-chemically addicted.

    You are correct. One has to make the choice to overcome their addiction, whatever it might be…

  7. High Kenneth. To get real I had to come up with alternative Highs. Singing lyrics to just the right music gets me pumped. Writing vents, producing a relief. Replacing harmful thoughts with healthy ones always works. It is the same process as becoming addicted, to slowly substitute new behaviors that stimulate my happy brain.
    Monkeys crave Oreos without reading the advertising and I cry sometimes if I succumb to a Big Mac Attack.
    Addicts are impaired and need support and suggestions not shame.

  8. Drug addictions are, on the whole, fuelled by unhappiness and feelings of hopelessness and loss. Drugs provide an escape for many. Maybe we should try and address these issues first before banning everything that could be addictive. Like you said, outright bans never seem to work and often the problem can worsen.

    And what about education? The education needed is not in the addiction. The human power of curiosity is too powerful for that. Indeed some of the professions that face the biggest problems of drug addiction are people like doctors and dentists. Do they need education? I think not.

    Some of the problem lies within the issues inherent within Western society. There is a big divide between rich and poor and most drug addictions are experienced on the extremes of the affluence scale. Either in the extremely rich or in the poverty-stricken.

    Hence, we need to understand the problems of these sets of people and listen to them so that they feel empowered and are given hope, especially if they are on or about to enter a slippery downward slope.

    I don’t however believe there is an easy answer considering the complexities of what drives our addictions. Indeed poverty can lead to a lack of trust in our social systems, and as you said, others may not want to change

  9. I’ll take a Pepperidge Farm’s Milano cookie over an Oreo, any day. 🙂
    Have you seen Suicide by Sugar: A Startling Look at Our #1 National Addiction (2009)? Heavy on the research.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog. Yours looks very interesting, Culture Monk. Timing: I’m now working on a post that includes discussion of medieval monks!

  10. When I was pregnant with my second, I literally felt as though she was demanding Oreos (Double Stuff and NOT THE OFF BRAND) from the womb. It was my savior. Sorry, study people. I NEED those Oreos. I don’t eat them much any more but… I did then! – the wifey

  11. And mannnnnnn do i ever love dem Oreos! :-))!

  12. How timely for me: My next blog has to do with my personal addiction–to collecting. Follow me. Thanks for the great posting and links. http://memoriesofatime.com

  13. hmmm that is weird hate oreos i wonder if that means i would hate cocaine

  14. Great post!
    On a lighter note……eating Oreos is an art, truly.
    They are my most favorite cookie!

  15. Addicts are addicts because their base needs are not being met somehow and they need to find a way to fill that void. The only reason I am not an addict is because my mother instilled in me the need to be in control of my own life from the day she found out she was pregnant with me. It is only the fear of having to answer to a chemical or lose my power to be in control of my actions that has kept me from taking the risk of trying certain drugs or staying in certain relationships. That fear outweighs the false voice in people’s heads that whispers that “you are different, you won’t become an addict, you’re stronger than the drug/sugar/other person’s words and you’ll be able to control it because you are you and not all those other people who aren’t you.” Even with coffee, if I think I need to have that cup of coffee instead of just want it, I will stop drinking coffee for weeks, months and one time for an entire year just to prove it isn’t an addiction to caffeine. Being sober can be a hard thing to do and a lot of people are just not up for the challenge. Whether it is a high from illegal drugs or just a processed sugar high, some people just can’t cope without a little help from a habit. For a large percentage of people I don’t think education about the consequences will work, making things illegal clearly doesn’t work and even watching their body deteriorate all around them isn’t enough to convince them they are clearly engaging in unwise activities. Have you heard about that cheap heroin knockoff that has popped up in the US, the one that literally rots your body from the inside out and has an estimated year long use before it just kills you? If people are willing to start using that, than perhaps proclivity towards addiction is indicative that the human population still adheres on some level to the rule of survival of the fittest. I am not trying to be insensitive, but could one argue that under that hypothesis the strong will avoid temptation and the weak will fall to their addictions?

    • “…because their base needs are not being met”

      That’s a great starting place, and it’s obviously also connected to my own philosophy on the subject which is rooted in the; “why” does an addict behave the way they do

  16. Reblogged this on The Minute with Kirk Noland and commented:
    Get a straw and crumble some cookies we are going to binge tonight!

  17. Reblogged this on Bloggsy Malone and commented:
    Whatever your poison. Whatever your demons. The control is yours, ironically, even when you have lost control. ASK FOR HELP!
    Read Kenneth Justice’s blog. He knows what he’s talking about.

  18. The US is the only country in the world to make laws banning alcohol. The “Grand Experiment” that was Prohibition was a failure. Not only did it not stop the flow of alcohol, it actually increased criminal activity to catastrophic levels.

    You would think we would learn from this. But when you look around you are bombarded by someone on their high horse demanding that we stop this or stop that. It doesn’t matter what it is, it offends someone.

    I am a recovering smoker. I started smoking when I was 17 and smoked for 10 years, quit for 5, then started smoking again for another 5. Each time I have quit I did it cold turkey. It wasn’t because of any of the brainwashing statistics. Sure smoking has probably damaged my lungs, but there are so many other things in this world that damage our lungs as well. I quit because I didn’t want that little cylinder of tabacco ruling my life.

    Too often we look at outside sources to tell us how to live, to tell us what to do. It is far more important that we make the decision for ourselves. You are more likely to maintain your behaviour when you are the cause of the change instead of an outside force. It is your choice and no one elses.

    I also still love booze and have been known to hang out with smokers. They are friends and entitled to their own choices in life.

  19. Here we go – end the war on poverty, end homelessness in ten years, (been hearing that one for decades) end the war on drugs, ban sugar, fat, guns and Bibles. Yada, yada, yada. Call 911, I’ve been holding my breath too long, I’ve fallen andI can’t get up. Okay, time for coffee . . .
    And, thanks for visiting me.

  20. Caffeine might not be bad for you, Kenneth, but, it’s bad for me.

    Now once in a while, someone will tell me, “You can’t have caffeine because you’re a Mormon!” and I’ll have to tell them, no, that’s not quite true. Recently, leadership said the proscription was against coffee and tea, but it was not specifically against colas, sodas, and the like. So for a little while, I happily swigged my Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, and all the rainbow variants of Mt. Dew. But… I found it messed with my sleep, and restricting it even before noon was still bad. Energy drinks were far, far worse. So, I had to give it up.

    Now, others in my little family can handle it, but, they already take or have taken stimulant meds for AD(H)D. It helps them calm down and focus. I also know a few people that prefer caffeine to prescribed meds for the same reason.

    Sometimes, people look at my obesity, and think some particular food is to blame, be it french fries, chips, cookies (like Oreos), corn sugar additives, GMOs, or whatever. No. That’s too simplistic. I probably have eaten too many foods that were of low nutrient value for emotional reasons. But psychiatric drugs also did a terrible number on me, and other family members believe that we, collectively, don’t have a high metabolism. THAT primarily comes from my youngest sister, who is a yoga instructor! I don’t think anyone chastises her about her body composition too much; she simply observed she had a more difficult time losing weight after a pregnancy than some people.

    I think it is a matter of personal discretion, and decisions should be a fairly private matter between individuals and their health care professionals. Everyone else should step off.

    • I know a lot of people whose weight is directly connected to the various psychotropic drugs they have been subscribed…..one friend gained nearly 65lbs in less than a year from one particular drug

    • Yup. I had severe weight loss in the beginning, actually, before the severe weight gain happened. I also had a p-doc that tried to tweak for weight loss, with disastrous results. One particular drug (Neurotin/gabapentin) was suggested to me recently for pain management, but I emphatically said “NO”, as I didn’t want to revisit the ugly side effects (or a wistful desire to claim a slice of the last class-action lawsuit that was filed FOR the off-label manner for which I was previously prescribed that drug). However, I did say yes to some alternate options that I have partly tried before– but we are monitoring things very, very carefully.

    • It sounds like you have a good handle on the situation, a lot of people don’t realize that they need to do a lot of research and study with regards to the drugs they are prescribed because to put it quite simply; the doctors who prescribe the drugs are fallible and the entire process is less scientific than it is experimental….

  21. p.s. You may be aware of how well NYC’s ban of 32-oz. soft drinks is going… I think the response was that many people simply ordered more smaller size cups.

  22. good post, interesting take on things, I saw something recently you might want to look into. I just wrote a post about it on my blog. The article was on the Smithsonian website/blog, it was about a chemical called kynurenic acid that the scientists think can/will ‘cure’ addiction. Here’s the link…


    Here’s the link to the post I wrote commenting on that article…

    I’d be interested to hear what the people who’ve been commenting so far think about these 2 posts (mine and the one from Smithsonian)

  23. Well from what I also know about addictive behavior is it’s more mental than chemical. Yes you’re right someone has to choose to stop but that’s not always so easy. A person has to realize/admit it’s a problem before he or she can decide to fix the problem. Then for some it is chemical. I always hear about how quitting smoking is so difficult – for some it’s not it’s just a decision and they are lucky enough to have the self-discipline to follow through. For others the chemical addiction is really hard to kick. I think it varies from person to person and then in the end it’s about that individual’s dedication to self to follow through on that decision. Self-discipine is difficult. I know. Right now I’m seriously lacking in it lol, but it is in the end up to me to make the changes I want to see.

    • You might be surprised to learn that the majority of people who quit smoking do so without the aid of any external psychological help (I.e. the patch, nicotine gum, counseling, etc)

      Most people who quit smoking…….simply…..quit.

      A lot of it is connected to responsibility; a surprisingly high number of women quit smoking when the become pregnant…..of course there at those who do not, but they would be considered to be the outliers

  24. Another great post! I’m addicted to love, abuse, sugar, opioids, nicotine, marijuana, benzodiazepines…the list goes on. Those who believe they are not addicted to anything are fooling themselves. I am not actively addicted to all of these things at this time, but the fact remains. It is absolutely about balance and choices. Prohibition does not eliminate options, and balance is a personal choice. I have chosen to leave behind the things that were wrecking my life, and balance the things that were not. Pretty simple formula, yet difficult to execute!

  25. The structure of our education system is habit forming since we as we taught by rote.
    We have to spend the rest of life desensitising ourselves, otherwise the habits we learn instead of being an open door, becomes our prison..
    Therefore, it seems to me we all have a daily battle dealing with our particular addiction.

    Mine is I can’t stop thinking!

  26. I think someone made that up. … I know first hand about living with addiction, and Oreos don’t cut it. Maybe as part of a eating disorder, but you don’t see people living on the street, losing their family, going to jail or dying because of Oreos.

  27. How about being addicted to blogging. It could be lethal to my social life. Seriously though, while I didn’t have a chance to read all the other comments on this, I was really annoyed by the O to C comparison. I assume it was tongue in cheek, but not very funny. Cocaine is a serious problem that should not be trivialized. I bet a lot of coke addicts would gladely trade their habit for one to oreos. Glad I found your blog.

    • I didn’t give the specifics of the research study, but it involved findings which demonstrated that the same physiological responses in the brain connected to cocaine addiction….are also present in connection to eating Oreos….oddly enough, it was specifically the white filling in the Oreos that the lab rats were addicted to. (p.s. i purposely left out the specifics of the research study because Im still not completely sure how I feel about rats (and other animals) being used in lab research….it leaves me with an uneasy feeling

    • I know, I had a very smart friend who used to work in a research lab where they experimented on chimpanzees. He finally had to leave because he couldn’t bear it any longer. I know we’ve gained a lot thanks to animal research but it’s a tough subject.

  28. There is a difference between Oreos and cocaine. Cocaine is addictive because it’s awesome! (okay, maybe not for me) but Oreos are addictive because they were designed to be that way. Oreos maybe awesome as well but we need to be aware that they were designed by scientists not to provide any human nutritional value but to be addictive and sell cookies to addicts. It’s not just cookies or snack foods or fast food that are doing this. It’s across all forms of corporate food manufacturing. This is something to get upset about. To me, it’s at least as upsetting as organized crime in the illegal drug trade. If scientists want our respect I would like to see them take some sort of Hippocratic oath like doctors and vow, to above all else, not do harm. I’ve heard that there is a movement among architects to do this and stop designing buildings which do harm – like most prisons. I love it when groups take it upon themselves to do better by others. Can you imagine what would happen if scientists did this?

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