Addicted To “Stuf”

That 3:00am craving for an Oreo may not be just a craving after all. According to scientists at Connecticut College, it’s actually more like an illicit drug withdrawl. A recent study with lab rats has proved that given the choice, we would rather eat Oreos than snort cocaine. Neurologically speaking that is.

Here are the basics: Lab rats were placed in a maze with rice cakes and Oreos. Not surprisingly, the rats went to the Oreos instead of the rice cakes. Side note- they couldn’t have picked a tastier healthy food than rice cakes? Even with seasoning added, they still taste like styrofoam. Next, they placed the lab rats in the same maze only this time they substituted the rice cakes with cocaine. Why cocaine? Physically speaking,  your body cannot be addicted to cocaine. You can be mentally addicted but your body will never need to physically ween off of cocaine. Addicts cannot be admitted to a detox for cocaine abuse because they do not have to physically detox from it. Therefore it’s perfect testing substance for want vs. need.

The lab rats sampled both and what would you know- the rats kept going back to the Oreos instead of the cocaine. There are some important takeaways from this.

  • The pleasure receptors in the brain that recognize cocaine are the same that recognize Oreos.
  • The rats seemingly felt more pleasure from the Oreos than from the cocaine based on their repeated return to the cookie rather than the drug.
  • Rats are used in these studies because Neurologically they are incredibly similar to humans.

Now, a few things to be wary of

  • Despite what some articles are saying- this study does not suggest that Oreos are as dangerous for humans as cocaine.
  • The reasons for cocaine use and Oreo consumption are inherently different. So yes, consumption of each set off the same pleasure receptor, but the mental impacts which play a role in addiction are very different.

This study just further proves that consumers need to be educated and aware of what they are putting into their bodies and the effects the ingredients have. One of the scientists who conducted this study has been widely quoted saying he has not eaten an Oreo since the experiment was conducted, nor does he plan to. My non-professional advice to you- Eat an Oreo. But if you find yourself unable to say no to the second, third and tenth, consider an intervention for your snack cabinet.

 

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