Dr. Cali Estes - The Addictions Academy ®

Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Sugar addiction

Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Sugar! You either love it or hate it. Those who love it might attribute it to the sweetness or the energizing aspects, while their counterparts may be wary of the unhealthiness or might be parents who’ve experienced children running on nothing but the stuff.

However, one of the biggest reasons – if not the biggest reason sugar has stayed as popular as it has for so long is just how addicting it can be. It’s no big surprise. We all know sugar is addictive, it’s just a dirty little secret we collectively are willing to sweep under the rug for the sake of their morning coffee tasting better.

Don’t be fooled though, sugar isn’t just addictive. It’s very addictive. Troublingly addictive.


A study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that

“In both animals and humans, the evidence in the literature shows substantial parallels and overlap between drugs of abuse and sugar, from the standpoint of brain neurochemistry as well as behavior.”

In other words, evidence found within the study suggests that sugar has similar effects to drug use. This includes “bingeing, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitisation, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward and opioid effects.”

On top of that, the findings can be further corroborated by another study conducted in 2007 explicitly stating that sugar is more addictive than cocaine.

In this study, rats were offered water sweetened with sugar and an alternative solution dosed with cocaine. 94% of the time they preferred the sweetened solution. Even when upping the dosage in the drug solution, the rats would prefer the sugary alternative.

Why? Well, the researchers in this study suggested that sugar’s intense sweetness is capable of surpassing cocaine’s reward, even when it comes to drug-sensitized / addicted individuals.

Sugar Addiction

These are some shocking findings, yet hardly discussed by many. Sugar is a lot more prevalent than you would think. 60% of the foods and beverages in American grocery stores contain sugar in them. It’s everywhere and it’s no wonder why so many of us struggle to cut it out of our diet.

This is a difficult detail to digest, and some may be well aware, just wary of breaking the habit of consuming too much sugar. Though, it’s not impossible.

It’s admittedly difficult to do alone, but there are resources you can reach out to for some help! There are professionals with swaths of knowledge on the solutions to the issue, whether it be a life coach or specialist in the field such as a Food Addiction Coach!

Our sister organization The Addictions Coach hosts Food Addiction Coach services that know the ins and outs of addressing these issues. It’s not exclusive to sugar addiction, either. Our coaches can address any unhealthy food relationships and help guide you to a better state of mind.

Not only that, but each coach is trained and certified to best serve your needs. In a class designed and hosted by Cali Estes, a globally-renown coach in various fields, she addresses all sorts of issues. The class spans from relationships with food down to the especially relevant “How to kick your sugar habit (if you want to)” lesson!

With that being said, this isn’t meant to make you jump to conclusions. If you don’t think you’re addicted, coaching may not be necessary. Sugar is addictive, but that isn’t a sign to completely cut it out of your life.

In moderation, it’s fine! However, most products have egregious amounts of the stuff and so you must keep your head on a swivel. Don’t be afraid of that lengthy ingredients label on the back of your food and drinks. 24 grams of sugar for most adult women and 36 grams of sugar for most men is the recommended daily consumption limit. If it’s too difficult, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We’re here for you!

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