Drugs are bad, mmkay? Having said that, in quite a number of movies, drugs are necessary. You can’t have a stoner comedy that doesn’t include people getting stoned, and how would you even know a movie was set sometime in the 1980’s if it didn’t include a white-collar businessman snorting cocaine? So, how do you make a movie that includes people doing drugs without having your actors doing drugs? Just like actors need stand-ins on occasion, the prop master brings in stand-ins for the drugs and the stand-in for cocaine has changed in recent years.
In the past, powdered milk and baking soda have been your standard replacements for 1980’s nose candy but recently that has changed. According to the Independent, a powder called inositol is what you see these days when you see actors snorting coke. It makes sense, as the white powder is often used as a cutting agent for actual cocaine. Inositol is a vitamin B powder, and as it turns out, being a vitamin can actually give you a “slight energy lift.” This isn’t too surprising. Vitamin B is the primary ingredient in most of your “energy shot” drinks for just this reason. At the same time, it’s actually a little creepy. You’re pretending to be snorting cocaine, which gives you a serious lift, and while you’re not actually taking the drug, you’re taking a different powder into your body which still gives you a bit of a kick. It’s like “diet cocaine.”
This was reportedly a serious problem on the set of The Wrestler where Mickey Rourke was apparently notified of the powder’s side effects following a scene where his character ingests the fake drug. Jeff Butcher, the prop master on the film, said that Rourke had a bit of a “freak out” upon discovering what he just ingested. Apparently the actor had some preexisting anxiety issues, and he was afraid that the pep from the powder might exacerbate them. Luckily, it does not appear there were any problems, as Rourke was able to calm down.
The fact that “the stuff” is not real does not mean that there can’t be some serious problems with snorting it. Al Pacino has previously discussed how snorting the fake cocaine in Scarface completely messed up his nasal passages for years afterward. They can make the stuff not kill you, but you still have to actually inhale it up your nose which, generally speaking, is not how your body was designed to take in substances.
So the next time you see somebody on screen snorting a white powder, you’ll know what they’re actually inhaling. Nobody is doing actual drugs, although they may be increasing their daily intake of calcium or vitamin B. See, it’s almost like they’re being healthy.