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What is the difference between Oreos and cocaine? Aside from the likelihood that one will earn you a stay at a government hotel, the exorbitant costs, and…well, look, the short version is it turns out Oreos are more addictive than cocaine or morphine.

Biochemically speaking, research from Connecticut College suggests that the world’s favorite chocolate and crème-centered cookie has considerably more kick than the Columbian marching powder in terms of potential for addiction. Their experiments indicated that the amount of neurons activated in the so-called pleasure-centers of the brain were higher for high-sugar/high-fat foods versus even the most notorious drugs.

Like all studies, this one is far from perfect.

This one put hungry rats in a maze. One side got rice cakes, the other got Oreos. Naturally, the Oreos won out, and the results were recorded. Then, the same method was used. This time, though, the rats either got a saline injection, or cocaine or morphine. The evidence shows similar likelihoods that the more indulgent option would be chosen.

While this may not be that big of a surprise, the results showing a higher propensity for selecting the Oreos over the “more addictive” substances was. That said, this could have been for any number of reasons and caused by any number of factors. Plus, the choice between the Oreos and the cocaine/morphine was never introduced, making the study somewhat limited. The length of time the rats had gone without food could have heavily impacted the study as well.

However, if the research is correct, it tells us a lot about the field of addiction as a whole. We have said it countless times before, but the drugs and alcohol are not what make an alcoholic or an addict—it is the person his or herself. There is something within that person’s body and how they process things chemically that is somehow different than the average person.

Of course, it could also indicate that anyone has the biological ability to become an addict or alcoholic, which has far reaching implications alone. By crossing that threshold of addiction, regardless of what that addiction stems from, the addict/alcoholic/compulsive eater processes the drive and the reaction to those things differently from that point forward. It also helps explain why addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, and just about anything else can be so incredibly difficult to overcome, regardless of what the subject of the addiction is.

Hopefully, it also reveals the struggles of both the compulsive eater and the alcoholic, who both have to cope with having easy and regular access to indulging their addictions. However, this, too, is becoming increasingly more common regardless of the substance to which one is addicted.

Sadly, addiction in any form still carries some stigma. That Oreos and cocaine can be compared chemically does not reflect the agony that addiction itself causes. Hopefully, though, this can be a step towards greater compassion for each group of people as a whole, taking addiction out of the realm of morality and into the realm of science.

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