Fake Free, what?

Fake Free is the world’s most innovative approach to substance use prevention.

It has been developed by our members from Sri Lanka – who have a long history of questioning the real effects of alcohol and analyzing the power of expectancies – and from Sweden. Ever since, Fake Free is being used in Poland, Serbia and Bosnia and is coming to Kenya and Germany.

Fake Free purpose

Fake Free is an innovative and evidence-based prevention method that

  • Questions the alcohol norm and unfair advantages attached to alcohol use
  • Deconstructs the positive expectation associated with using alcohol
  • Exposes the myths and strategies of the alcohol industry,
  • Promotes media and corporate literacy, and that
  • Analyzes prevention programs for their effectiveness.

Fake Free mission

Fake Free works to shatter the alcohol norm, bust alcohol myths and increase the freedom for people to make healthy, fun choices – fake free.

Fake Free puts the spotlight on research findings in the field of prevention and effective strategies to protect young people from alcohol harm.

Fake Free works to de-glamorize alcohol and exposes the unfair and illogical advantages that people get when they are under the influence of alcohol.

About the Power of Expectations, or…Who said alcohol is fun?

Honestly, the most common reasons for people to use alcohol are to:

  • Make out
  • Have fun with friends,
  • Dance,
  • Be talkative,
  • Or simply – to relax

But can all that fun stuff fit into a bottle? Is alcohol a magic potion that can provide all that on purely chemical basis? 

Not really!

Fake Free challenges the social construction of alcohol

It’s the people who make the party awesome, not the drinks, bro.

There are no real medical proofs that it is alcohol that makes people feel all the fun. What actually happens when we use alcohol is that we are so strongly convinced that alcohol will make us so free and happy that already the mere expectation makes us intoxicated.

We could say that one does not get intoxicated on alcohol but on expectations.

Ethanol – the grand placebo

The best way to prove alcohol’s placebo effects is a blind test.

Fake Free encourages people to spread inspiration and good vibes.

Alcohol and other drugs aren’t that interesting any way.

Fake Free wishes to create more party free from forced rules and lethargy.

Fake Free Community action

FF Alina_fb

The third dimension of Fake Free – complementing the prevention approach and the think tank thought leadership work – is the community action campaign.

Fake Free empowers people to create events, parties and activities that challenge the alcohol norm, question myths perpetuated by Big Alcohol and at the same time are fun, exciting and creative – everything that young people want to be.

Fake Free community action is about busting myths and exposing the alcohol industry in creative way, using art – like graffiti. Fake Free community action is about public events that encourage and challenge people to question their assumptions about alcohol and its effects.

Fake Free community action is about empowering the community to stop giving illogical advantages to people who have used alcohol. And Fake Free community action is all about party, fun and hanging out with awesome people.




Expectation - Intoxication

Bild37Honestly, the most common reason for people to choose alcohol is to be able to make out, have fun with friends, be talkative and relax.

Is alcohol a magic potion that can make all that happen – making people animated and relaxed at the same time? Is alcohol a magic potion that can make all that happen – creating legendary adventures and candle light romance all at once?

Well, there is actually no medical proof that ethanol alone can create all the emotions and behaviours that people feel when they are under the influence of alcohol.

It is actually the expectations of feeling exhilarated, limitless, sad, relaxed or more social that will decide if the feeling of intoxication occurs.

That means that feeling high is first and foremost a social construction and dependent on the circumstances.

How on earth can you tell what in the intoxication does come from ethanol and what comes from the expectation? It is possible to tell by looking at the effects that the ethanol has in different cultures, different times and through blind tests.

By making comparisons it is possible to see a pattern: the chemical effect of alcohol is the same in all cultures and times: the numbness of the body which leads to physical disabilities including tripping over, dropping things, vomiting, speech impediment or drowsiness.

Research has not been able to prove that the chemical of ethanol affects the mood.

In other words, ethanol intoxication can be divided into two parts:

  1. The chemical affect that numbs the physical ability of the body
  2. Learnt expectations of different feelings.



Make It Happen

FF Who siad alcohl is fun1_fbEveryone can be part of collapsing the destructive norm of alcohol – no matter where you are, how old you are and whether or not you live free from alcohol. Fake Free is for everyone! For starters, here comes some inspiration for guerrilla actions to dissolve the alcohol norm. One action at a time:

  • When going out: Ask for a wide selection of high quality wine, beer, and cocktails free from alcohol in the pub and at the restaurant. Be demanding!
  • When having people over for a party: Always offer festive drinks that everyone can drink – alcohol-free is the new black.magic drink
  • Expose the alcohol norm by talking about it.
  • Think about your own role in the alcohol norm – are you influencing others with your choice to live free from alcohol; or are you influencing others with your choice to add alcohol to social life?
  • Are you provoked by those who are breaking the alcohol norm – and if so why?
  • How do you talk about alcohol? Are you confirming the myths?
  • 62% of the world’s population always drink alcohol free beverages – get globalised!
  • Tell your favourite club to be creative and help create a cool club scene that stimulates creativity, not boring alcohol products, but unique, healthy and innovative drinks.



Association Exercise

The Purpose

To give participants an idea about what associations they have themselves around various alcoholic beverages and understand how it affects their view of alcohol.

The Realization

Draw a glass (a shot glass) and a bottle of vodka (write 40% on it), wine glasses and wine bottle and beer can and beer glasses, one at a time. Ask the participants what they think about and associate with each image.

Say that they can associate freely.

They should not just say what it is, but it’s important that they see what it represents! Write down some of the answers on the whiteboard/ flipchart.

The Discussion

Go back to the images. What qualities and moods are they associated with?

  • Is there a difference between the various beverages? Why is it so?
  • Is wine more cozy, while vodka is party and beer is football?

They all have one thing in common – alcohol. Draw a molecule of ethanol!Bild37

  • What do the participants associate with that image of the molecule?The molecule does not look so much fun. It is more like something picked out of a chemistry book, but why is alcohol associated with, for example, party and adventure then?

Other stuff

Time: 10-20min

Materials: White board, pens, little artistic mind

Difficulty level: 1/3




Bild02The Purpose

Alcohol and sex are often closely related to each other. By getting the chance to discuss the quotes of other young people who have opinions about alcohol, it opens up for a discussion about how the alcohol norm appears to us.

The Realization

You’ll read the quotes out loud that the participants then will discuss. Choose to either read both or just one of them.

The first is a 23-year old girl in an individual interview. She tells how she sees the connection between alcohol and expectations of “finding someone/a date:”

It’s easier, for example, to find someone to be with for a night if you are in a context where many consume alcohol… thus if one is, for example, at a party, people expect that you could go home with some unknown person/stranger, but when you’re in a café in the middle of a day, there aren’t so many that expect it…”

The second quote is from four girls between 18- and 19-years of age, who are discussing having sex with someone when alcohol is involved .

Interviewer: You think it’s worse, why do you think it is worse?

D: When you are drunk, then you are more off…like… this only, uah … so here lethargic …

[ Laughter ]

B : And then it just becomes something [indistinct]. A “pancake” …

D: And you do not feel so much either …

B: No, one does not feel as stimulated …

A: No, and it becomes a bit like this, it takes a long time for him to come …

D: One does not manage like that for a long time…

A: You get tired …

The Discussion

First quote:

  • What does she mean by saying that there is a difference between a café and a party where people use alcohol? (1/3)
  • Do you agree with what she says ? (1/3)
  • What is the difference between a café venue and a “typical” place where alcohol is used? (2/3)
  • If she is right, why do you think people expect and accept that you go home with someone from a party, but they do not expect it from you, if you are in a coffee shop? (3/3)

Second quote:

Many believe that a little alcohol can make sex hotter, or more romantic, with a bottle of red wine, for example. How is it in this case?

  • Do the participants have positive or negative attitudes towards having sex when alcohol is involved? (1/3)
  • Why? (Related to the question above) (1/3)
  • Why do you think alcohol and sex are associated with each other? (3/3)

The Conclusions

Conclude by telling that there have been studies about how people’s ability is affected by alcohol: that is to say that it is harder to get blood to their genitals, making them more difficult to use.

Say also that horniness was affected only in those who believe they have consumed alcohol. Those who do not think they have ingested alcohol will not get any more horny, whether it is alcohol in their glass or not.

Other stuff

Materials: –

Time: 10-20 min

Difficulty: 2/3



Symbolism In A Square

PrintThe Introduction

The expectations we have around different symbols matter as they influence the way we perceive the symbols. A symbol itself has different meanings depending on the context and culture in which it exists.

The Purpose

To help participants understand that the reason that we associate vodka with celebration, wine with relax and beer with football is because that is how it is generated in the society that we live in, for example through alcohol marketing by the alcohol industry.

By looking at the other symbols and seeing what we know and feel about them, the message can become much clearer.

The Realization

Tell the group it’s time to compete a little bit, that you are going to play Pictionary!

You will draw, they will guess. Try to create a competitive atmosphere among the participants. Measure the time also, preferably 30 seconds.

Say that you think about a certain phenomenon or thing that you want them to guess (they should guess the words in the brackets in the following text).

The following words may be used:

Christmas tree (Christmas/ Christmas Eve)
New Year’s rocket/ Bang (New Year)
Happy smiley (joy)
Sad smiley (regret)
Egg (Easter)
Tombstone with cross on (cemetery or death)
Ending with the word “party” (disco ball, party hats, loudspeakers)

Now you can begin to explain what is meant by symbolism. Explain that the reason that we know and associate certain characteristics or moods with symbols and images is that our culture has taught us so. We celebrate Christmas with a Christmas tree, therefore, we associate a Christmas tree with Christmas spirit. For those who do not celebrate Christmas with a Christmas tree or who do not celebrate Christmas at all, they will not make the association.

Some things can be very strongly associated with a trait or feeling, as happy and sad smiley (if there is a symbol that went especially fast for the students to guess, point it out!)

This shows that the symbols are very important for how we perceive things. Please give more examples if needed.

The Take-home message:

Everything is a social construction.

Other stuff:

Time: 10-20 min

Materials : Chalkboard , pens and a little artistic mind

Difficulty: 2/3



Full Of Expectations

FakeFree glassThe Purpose

Introduce the concept that alcohol is largely a placebo drug with a great symbolic value and anticipation effects that are not automatically associated with the medical and physical effects of ethanol in the human body.

The Realization

Step 1:
Yes, no or maybe

Participants must decide whether they agree or disagree with a statement by answering yes, no or maybe. Ask participants to stand in front of their chairs. They respond as follows:

  • Yes – arms straight up in the air
  • No – arms straight down towards the ground
  • Maybe – arms crossed.

If it seems that they are influenced by each other, it’s a good idea to make the exercise “blind” by allowing participants to close their eyes while performing the exercise. Please use the following statements.

  1. I like liquorice.
  2. When I go to a party, I want to dance.
  3. I’ve been to a party without using alcohol.
  4. I’ve been to a party without drinking alcohol.
  5. I have experience that someone was pressured to use alcohol.
  6. Alcohol is anxiety.
  7. Alcohol makes you let go of your inhibitions.
  8. Alcohol makes people aggressive.
  9. Alcohol makes people happy.
  10. Alcohol gives more confidence.
  11. Alcohol makes one hornier.
  12. Alcohol impairs alertness, coordination skills and intellectual ability.
  13. Alcohol tastes good

Step 2:
View the movie

Watch the movie Fake Frees movie “Expectations”. The movie is available for download – just send us an e-mail.

The Discussion

  • Would you answer differently on the statements after seeing the movie? (1/3)
  • Why is there a belief that alcohol has all the fun effects? (2/3)
  • What other symbols can affect how we feel or think? (2/3)
  • What other symbols can be associated with a party? (2/3)
  • If alcohol’s effects are largely caused by anticipation and expectation, why do you think we do not drive when we have been drinking alcohol? (1/3)
  • What would be the difference in society if everyone knew what was told in the movie? (3/3)

Read more

Hans Olav Fejkaer – The psychology of getting high

Other stuff

Time: 10-20 min

Level: 1/3

Materials: Projector / TV / computer, speakers, movie ” Expectations”




Placebo Module

The Introduction

Before we start talking about the placebo effect in intoxication, we should establish the placebo effect as a concept and show how powerful it can be and in how many different contexts it exists. (Theory about placebo is in the comprehensive material about Fake Free).

The Purpose

The purpose of this is to make sure that the placebo effect is well established because the risk otherwise is (for those who are not quite familiar with it) that the concept is perceived as a complicated word that is only used to convince.

The Realization

Stage 1

Describe the principle behind the placebo, how our brain gets affected, how we feel. There are several explanations for why this is so. Please read more about it in the theory part.

Step 2

Present some examples of placebo or expectations and make sure to explain it well so every participant can keep up with you.

  • Those who are fresh after having a cup of coffee are partly influenced by the placebo effect because caffeine does not have such an “re-freshening” effect chemically.
  • Two sugar pills a day have stronger effect to cure ulcers than one sugar pill a day.
  • Placebo Treatments that are more expensive are more effective than those that are cheap.
  • Colourful large pills or injections provide more effect than small white pills.
  • If there are higher expectations from a group, the group will also perform better on tests (see Rosenthal effect).

  • Those who are in a gym and exercise can often lift a few kilos extra as long as they believe that they lift the same weight as they did at the last session.
  • An example of people believing they hold iPhone5 although they had iPhone4 in their hands (there is a significant difference between them).

Step 3

Finish by connecting the placebo effect to alcohol and show how researchers are investigating alcohol’s expectation effects. Draw or show the picture that describes how the Marlatt method works.


The Take-home message

The placebo effect does exist and can be found in several different directions.

Other stuff

Materials: Projector and computer (can be replaced with a whiteboard and pens)

Time: 10-20 min

Difficulty: 1/3



PR Agency

Frankenstein (2 of 2)The Introduction

The alcohol industry has many tricks to get us to use more alcohol. Advertising is their main weapon in the battle for consumers.

The Purpose

The aim is to get participants to understand how the alcohol industry uses advertising and ugly advertising tricks to get people (especially youth) to use more alcohol.

The Realization

Divide participants into four groups and tell them that they are advertising agencies and employees of four different companies.

The companies want you to advertise four different products (one product in each group) in as creative, innovative, funny and selling a way as possible.

In the country you live, there are absolutely no laws concerning alcohol and other drugs and their promotion.

The four products are:

  1. Happy Pills – small colorful drug tablets
  2. Zigge Ziggs – strong tobacco cigarettes with colored smoke
  3. Rastasmoke – cannabis cigarettes in the form of a specially treated paper which is rolled up and smoked
  4. Tiger beer – beer with high alcohol content

What they need to prepare is:

  • Logotype/ symbols
  • Slogans
  • Special Offers: “Buy two for one” or “Buy a product, get a toy”
  • TV commercials, either in the form of theater or manuscripts
  • Activities and advertising gimmicks, such as parachute jumping, pony rides, cool competitions, concerts, and so on…
  • Role models for the product, as celebrities and sports stars
  • Gadgets of various kinds, such as clothing and toys that promote your product

The purpose is to get people to buy as much as possible, all the products are also highly addictive.

The groups should keep in mind that the target audience for the advertising is youth. Partly because young people get easier addicted, partly because young people are more easily influenced by advertising and last but not least, to get lifetime customers at an early age, who will use the products for many years.

Have each group work on the task for 20-30 minutes and then report to the rest of the group all ideas that the groups have come up with.

Do not forget to praise all the great ideas that the groups have come up with!

The Discussion questions

  1. How did it feel to create advertising for drugs and alcohol?
  2. How would it look in a society if it was legal to advertise drugs to children?
  3. How would it be in school, the traffic, homes?

After you’re done with the discussion, feel free to tell that much of the advertising that the groups have come up with already exists. If not in your country then in some other country or region, where laws regarding drugs do not work so well or do not exist at all.

Other stuff

Material: Paper and pens

Difficulty: 1/3

Time: 30-60 mins




The Purpose

The exercise is for participants to understand that we humans are using excuses in several different contexts, not only in terms of alcohol contexts. This aims to broaden the understanding of being full of alcohol/ alcohol intoxication as a social construction.

The Realization

Start by telling that people by nature like to come up with various excuses for their behavior. Tell the story about the chess player Deschapelles and how he used to make excuses. After that, explain that you all together are constantly pairing different excuses with different behaviors.

Write down some behaviors, preferably the ones below. Then, with the help of the participants, pair up the various excuses and behaviors.

  • Loss in sports and games
  • Poor eyesight
  • Fatigue
  • Irritated
  • Unpleasant
  • Swearing
  • Skip the workout
  • Easily provoked
  • Being too late

Then list some typical excuses:

  • Poor facilities (in sports, for example)
  • Age
  • Lack of sleep
  • Did not eat breakfast in the morning
  • Did not drink coffee
  • Injury
  • Caught cold/ got sick /unwell
  • Did not eat (low blood sugar)
  • Pain (got hit)
  • Overslept

Now you will, in consultation with the participants, pair each behavior with an excuse. You can use an excuse several times but it is not possible to have several excuses for the same behavior.

The Discussion

  • What excuses do have a lot with the respective behavior to do, and which ones do have relatively little association? (2/3).
    (To answer that one may ask: Does everyone using that excuse behave the same way? Example: Is everyone who has not gotten his/her coffee in the morning irritated?)
  • Can you excuse a punch in the face with a coffee shortage? Would that work among your friends? (2/3)
  • Do you think people take advantage of this mechanism if they know that it’s an acceptable excuse? For example if they know they can get away with getting late if they only need to say that they overslept or that the subway did not work. (2/3)
  • Even if an excuse has to do with the behavior (overslept – late for work ), is it an excuse that can be used over and over again? Doesn’t it have more to do with the person? (3/3)

It may sound harsh to not allow people to be late sometimes, and it’s important to point out that it is not the purpose of this exercise. Anyone can make a mistake at times: be late, be grumpy or skip the workout.

The problem is when you uncritically let some people get space to behave poorly at the expense of others. How do we prevent people taking advantage of this?

Other stuff

Materials : Whiteboard, pens

Time: 10-20 min

Difficulty: 2/3

Start A Movement

The Purpose

Get the group to talk about the courage to be antisocial. The video clip is briefly about how a movement starts, and that it requires at least two people and a little courage to stand out.

The Realization

Watch the movie together.

The Discussion

  1. How would you feel if you were the one who started dancing? (1/3)
  2. How would you feel if you were the last one left on the lawn? (1/3)
  3. Some believe that alcohol is courage-giving, but is it not more brave to do crazy things without numbing oneself? It shows that you can stand up for what you are doing and have real courage. To be honest, does not courage require the feeling that something is difficult to do? Is one brave if she/he does not feel that something is difficult to do? (3/3)

Other Stuff

Time: 10-20 min

Difficulty: 2/3

Materials: Projector / TV, computer speakers, the movie “How to start movement”