By Dean L. Jones

The term gateway is often followed by the word drug, normally used to describe substances considered harmful like tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.  Those who are adverse to using legal and soft drugs sometimes push the theory that consumption of such can lead to the future use of more dangerous hard drugs.

In view of that, the general definition of a gateway drug is any substance that brings on an addictive behavior.  Most are acquainted that when overtly used processed sugar (sucrose) brings on an addictive behavior, which logically addresses the concept of it also being a gateway substance like those three aforementioned soft drugs.

Made from the sugar cane and/or sugar beet plants, processed sugar is added to countless foodstuff items.  To get it to that familiar crystal form it has been transformed essentially into a chemical, labeled as C12H22O11.  This chemical formula is purer than the drug cocaine, whose formula is C17H21NO4.  The chemical difference between cocaine and processed sugar is that sucrose is missing the ‘N’ (nitrogen atom symbol).

Processed sugar is in the realm of an actual gateway drug and has a tremendously abundant use that once ingested raises euphoric feelings.  Sadly, this substance is without any regulatory minimum age use like alcohol or tobacco and it is 100% legal everywhere, unlike marijuana.  All the same, neuroscience researchers agree how highly processed sugary-filled foodstuff creates a chemical reaction that stimulates the brain in the same way that drugs do.

Consuming considerable amounts of processed sugar develops an addictive behavior, no different than drugs like cocaine or morphine affect the brain and body to crave a need to repeat, or create a receptivity to take a chance experiencing something else that may satisfy that urge.  If products warned you about this potential reaction product sales would decline and worse never be purchased given how much sugar is added.

Just this week a General Mills was hit with a legal law suit claiming product deception by its new Cheerios Protein Cereal which contains 4-teaspoons of processed sugar and corn syrup per serving.  This is 17 times as much sugar as original Cheerios, making repeat eating of Cheerios Protein highly conducive to contracting diabetes, extra weight, heart disease, and tooth decay.

Companies like General Mills risk scrutiny in order to garner repeat purchases and product manufacturers employ intensely educated scientists well informed that processed sugar is a legal addictive substance strong enough to hook consumers.  The human brain’s pleasure center succumbs from eating highly-processed carbohydrates paralleled to dope that triggers the release of dopamine.

Regardless if consumers have made the comparison between soft drug and processed sugar it remains a potential gateway to illicit drug use.  Roughly 24.6 million (10%) Americans aged 12-years or older use illicit drugs, thereby generating a greater need for everyone to live SugarAlert!
Mr. Jones is a marketing strategist with the Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), sharing his view on mismanagement practices of packaged foods & beverages.