Cocaine plays an interesting role in our culture. It is frequently portrayed in the media as the drug of the fashionable, jetset crowd. Pandering to that image, Diet Coke has a new campaign targeting young people in big cities. The ads describe ambitious young go-getters who move to a cool spot to live out their dreams then state, “You’re On. (diet) Coke.
Coca-Cola claims they are celebrating “ambitious young achievers from all walks of life”, but it certainly seems like they are capitalizing on the glamour implicit in the drug reference. Until 1903, the company actually had cocaine as an ingredient. Coca-Cola and the media tend to showcase cocaine as a sexy drug for nightclubs and celebrities, but what’s the real truth? We here at the Pat Moore Foundation decided to dive deeper into this problem and public perception.
Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug made from the South American coca plant. It stimulates the central nervous system and increases the dopamine in brain. It also inhibits the way the brain’s neurotransmitters deliver dopamine, so over time and with repeated use, the brain is retrained to interpret pleasure and must have more and higher doses of the drug to gain that same sense of euphoria initially felt.
People use cocaine because it causes a sense of confidence, euphoria, and invincibility. It is often used in a binge-like pattern, as the positive sensations are short-lived and the subsequent comedown depressing.
Unfortunately, ads such as these pictured for Diet Coke highlight that false promise that cocaine offers; that the user is “on”, that they are invincible and poised to take over the world. Sadly, the truth of cocaine is that it is a highly addictive, illegal substance that has destroyed the lives of many.
Cocaine is hard on the body and the body. Like many drugs, using it once doesn’t mean a person will become addicted, but the temporary high causes many people to use it repeatedly, creating severe psychological dependence over time. Once the brain is conditioned to expect the high produced by cocaine, abstaining from it causes intense depression, irritability, and sense of comedown that leads to the cyclical pattern of cocaine use: Take cocaine, feel high, come down, experience discomfort, take more cocaine, and repeat the process.
In addition to the impact on the brain and drug seeking behavior, cocaine physically stimulates the nervous system, which leads to the danger of heart attacks and stroke. This is a risk for even a first time user.
Women are three times more likely to become addicted to cocaine then men, and people who were under 18 when they first experimented with cocaine are more likely to develop an addiction than to those who tried it later in life.
It’s interesting that the Coca-Cola campaign seems to be targeting this vulnerable demographic: young men and women who are experimenting with life. The ad agency Droga5, who created the campaign, reiterates that no drug references are intended, the messaging was created to capture the spirit of Coca-Cola’s empowerment of a generation, but it definitely raises some eyebrows.
Learn more about cocaine and the truth of what it does to your mind and body. Should we be holding major companies more accountable for the messages they’re sending out to young minds?
Image: Branding Magazine