Sugar vs Cocaine: Which is More Addictive?

5 min read.

By Kaydn Jensen Co-Founder of HydroSwell

What Sugar & Cocaine Have In Common

What's your drug of choice?

I'm going to tell you a dark secret. I used to be a Coke addict. 

I'm talking about Coca Cola! 

Maybe your drug of choice is ice cream, cookies, brownies, or caramel coffee drinks, but we're joking when we use the word "drug" after all it's just sugar right?

Actually, sugar might be more related to coke than we think, and this time I'm talking about cocaine. 

There are two reasons why sugar and cocaine have more in common than the fact that they're both white powder like substances. 

Sugar, Cocaine, & the Brain

Both sugar and cocaine release opioids and dopamine in our brains when consumed. 

Addiction is a broadly used word and it's used pretty lightly, but a real medically diagnosed addiction happens when someone’s brain chemistry has been altered to compel them to repeatedly do something despite harmful consequences.

Addiction always starts with a positive feedback loop.

Don't get thrown off by the word "positive". It doesn't mean it's good, just that it compels you to repeat the behavior again. 

It's really simple. 

Step 1: You eat sugar.
Step 2: Your brain is flooded with dopamine and opioids giving you a "high" feeling.
Step 3: Once you come down from the sugar high, your brain now craves that feeling which drives you to eat sugar again. 


The really sinister part is that just like with any drug, we build up a tolerance for sugar and so to achieve the same level of high, we have to keep upping our dosage.

You're probably well aware of the consequences of overdosing long term on sugar but here are a few common ones...

Diabesity (Diabetes + Obesity)

Heart Disease

Chronic Inflammation


& Many More.

The point is, it's serious and it claims lots of lives and makes the quality of life for many others plummet.

Sugar really is on par with Cocaine when it comes to developing an addiction.

But It's Impossible To Quit Sugar, Right? 

True. You'll never be able to entirely avoid it.

Sugar is found, in different forms, in lots of things. Even fruit, which is widely held as a healthy food has relatively large amounts of sugar and needs to be mindfully consumed.

Unlike drugs we need food to survive and even if you choose foods without added sugar, which we'd recommend, sugar is still found naturally in many things so it's not quite as simple as abstaining from sugar entirely.

What to do, what to do?

I could go on forever with suggestions, eating tips, and more but I have just one simple suggestion.

Stop drinking your sugar.

Like I said, I used to be a Coke addict. 

I wasn't alone either. At convenience stores in some of the most remote places on earth you'll likely be able to buy a Coca Cola. 

NOTE: By the way, lest you're thinking to yourself "I'm good to go because I drink Diet Coke" think again. Diet Coke and 99% of widely available "zero sugar" diet drinks are loaded with artificial sweeteners and other additives that are arguably even worse for your health.

So can you never have a sweet drink again? 

No, thankfully, Mother Nature has provided us with lots of great options.

All Natural Sweeteners

Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, and erythritol are good options. 

They won't spike your blood sugar and have minimal impact on your insulin levels, which is important if you want to avoid diabesity and other sugar related diseases.

For a small percentage of people though, they can cause digestion and stomach issues. The pain isn't dangerous, just uncomfortable so try these out and pay attention to how your stomach fares. 

One of the best all natural sweeteners is stevia. 

Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that comes from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant.

Unlike sugar, stevia may actually inhibit spikes in blood sugar spikes and insulin levels compared to sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Here are some other "sweet" facts about Stevia: 

  • It can lower inflammation
  • It can improve oral health
  • It has been shown to lower blood pressure
  • It can reduce liver damage

    You don't want to overdose on Stevia either though. It can spike your insulin levels a bit if you pound it but since it's about 300 times sweeter than sugar, it's actually pretty difficult to consume too much. 

    Some people have had bad experiences with the aftertaste of Stevia, but that's only because cheap low-grade Stevia is going to provide a low-grade taste.

    The high grade, pure Stevia leaf extraxt in ProLoco doesn't have an aftertaste at all!

    That’s why we use it in ProLoco, our crazy refreshing hydration + protein drink mix.

    Sugar & Coke: The Summary

    So turns out that Sugar and Cocaine are pretty evenly matched up when it comes to their ability to cause addiction, but the reality is, sugar is a part of life and, unlike cocaine, it should even be enjoyed sometimes.

    The key is to be mindful of where your sugar is coming from and to be aware of your personal health.

    If there's one great place to start though, stop drinking your sugar.

    Look for healthy alternatives like ProLoco with all natural sweeteners!