Sugar Intake and Cocaine Addiction—Are They Equally Dangerous?

Some researchers have claimed that sugar should be considered an addictive substance, and could even be equal with abusive drugs, like cocaine addiction.

Cardiovascular research scientists James J DiNicolantonio and cardiologist James H O’Keefe, both from The British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that sugar could act as a gateway to alcohol and other addictive substances. Cocaine and opium, like sugar, is refined from plants to yield pure white crystals—a process they say can add a significant amount of addictive properties.

Sugar addiction seems to be dependent to natural endogenous opioids that are released upon sugar consumption. The researchers found substantial parallels and overlaps between drugs of abuse and sugar, from the standpoint of brain neurochemistry as well as behavior.

“Consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its abiity to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar,” DiNicolantonio and O’Keefe wrote, citing rodent studies that revealed that sweetness is preferred even over cocaine, and that mice can experience sugar withdrawal.

The study also pointed out parallels between the effect of cocaine and sugar on the brain, stating that both interact with the same reward system.

However, this research comes with criticism from their fellow scientists who say while sugar consumption can lead to health issues, it cannot result in the drastic effects of drug abuse.

Tom Sanders, emeritus professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London said that it was “absurd to suggest that sugar is addictive like hard drugs. While it is true that a liking for sweet things can be habit-forming, it is not addictive like opiates or cocaine.”

DiNicolantonio countered these forms of arguments stating that while sugar consumption in humans doesn’t lead to physical withdrawal signs, there are biochemical signs of withdrawal in the brain.

We may not know if sugar and cocaine addiction are equal quite yet, but we do know that both can have negative effects on the human body. However, an uncontrolled substance like cocaine can be incredibly dangerous. Testing for cocaine can show us just how scary the substance can be.

Analyzing cocaine can sometimes be difficult due to frequent dilution throughout the creation process with numerous cutting agents and adulterants. It has been found that the majority of cocaine samples detected levamisole and lidocaine, which are responsible for potential toxicity and numerous public health concerns, making cocaine even more dangerous than it appears.

In addition, procaine, benzocaine, caffeine, and other adulterants that are commonly found in these samples, can be important markers in benzoylecgonine-positive test samples in forensic toxicology labs. Cocaine addiction and abuse is usually confirmed by detecting the presences of benzoylecgonine, an inactive metabolite of cocaine in oral fluids.

Oral fluid, being a non-intrusive form of biological sample collection, becomes an obvious choice for drug testing cases especially where drivers are under the influence.

This form of analysis is time-sensitive and demands on-site specimen collection (be it roadside or a traffic stop) for an accurate drug quantification.

To view the full analysis of cocaine metabolites and adulterants in oral fluid using a polymeric strong cation-exchange Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) sorbent, Strata®-X-C, in a 96-Well Plate format that is utilized for sample extraction and clean-up of cocaine-positive samples, check out the full technical note: Quantitative Analysis of Cocaine Metabolites and Adulterants in Oral FluidQuantitative Analysis of Cocaine Metabolites and Adulterants in Oral Fluid

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Sugar Intake and Cocaine Addiction—Are They Equally Dangerous?
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Sugar Intake and Cocaine Addiction—Are They Equally Dangerous?
Some researchers are arguing that sugar is addictive, even going as far to say that it is equal to cocaine addiction and abuse.

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