what is copium

knowyourmeme durantelallera/ShutterStock (Licensed)

Why is everyone in politics getting prescribed copium?

Is the buzz worth it?


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Feb 16, 2024   Updated on Feb 9, 2024, 2:01 pm CST

Copium’s been around the internet for at least half a decade now, but it first hit a lot of people’s radar during the 2020 election, when it started becoming clear that former President Donald Trump was losing to President Joe Biden. 

The coping had begun, and the coping got deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper until the vast majority of Republicans decided that Biden didn’t actually win at all, inhaling whatever they needed to make that a reality. 

That drug was Copium. 

Copium, the word, is a blend between “cope” and “opium.”

Cope is what you do when you’re wrong and you’ve lost but you’re not willing to accept it. You need something to keep you moving forward and so you deny reality. 

Opium is a highly addictive drug that’s habit-forming and used to escape reality.

Copium, then, is the made-up chemical agent which people use to hang on. One popular post-election copium meme showed a smirking Pepe doctor prescribing a depressed Trump support copium pills for the next 4 years: every day.

In Body Image
Know Your Meme

Copium is powerful, because the people in its grip usually don’t know just how high they are. 

They’re clinging on for dear life to something that almost everybody else already sees is over. 

The only way you couldn’t see just how over it already is, the theory goes, is getting high on some clean-cut copium. If they just keep hoping and coping… Trump will be back one day… the courts will overturn the election… patriots will be in control…

It’s all cope.

Copium, then, is “a micro-release that helps you keep going,” in the words of Geert Lovink in Eurozine. It’s something that helps you “enter the tricky mental state of painkiller-as-attitude that opens you up to the miracle.”

According to Know Your Meme, a 2003 album by the rapper Keak da Sneak called Copium is the earliest known mention of the word. It later spread through 4chan and Reddit, like most memes do, until percolating out into the mainstream with the 2020 election

Copium is a common meme in politics because people form deeply attached allegiances to people and ideas that are often resistant to reality. So it’s no surprise that the 2020 election unleashed such a stream of the memes onto the world. How could, after all, someone as old and enfeebled as Biden crush a man like Trump? 

In Body Image
Know Your Meme

A common early pre-election cope meme showed a crying Pepe the Frog wearing a mask piping in a container of copium.

That meme was endlessly remixed for the election with the simple addition of a MAGA hat to cast the crying Pepe as a disappointed Trump supporter unwilling to face facts.

A flood of those in YouTube edits solidified the status of the meme, including a video showcasing different variations on the meme called “Running out of Copium because Trump officially lost,” and endless video titles laughing at one side or another of the political spectrum not taking a loss lightly.

Copium can be the rallying cry of those subverting the mainstream narrative (see a video titled “Ukraine Uber Allies: Endless Copium as Russia Holds The Line” about Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive last fall), or it can be the calling card of people laughing at online influence entrepreneurs who think they’re challenging the mainstream narrative (see “TheQuartering Inhales Copium When His King Trump Is Criticized,” knocking a conservative influencer seemingly unable to come to terms with any cogent criticism).

Whoever’s saying it, one thing’s clear. Copium isn’t something anybody would ever admit to taking. It’s no sigh of an oppressed creature, or heart of a heartless world. Copium’s an insult.

Copium’s something you tell people they’re going through, and if they deny it, well, that’s just them huffing more.

We crawl the web so you don’t have to.
Sign up for the Daily Dot newsletter to get the best and worst of the internet in your inbox every day.
Sign up now for free
Share this article
*First Published: Feb 16, 2024, 7:00 am CST