Alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, according to a new study.
British experts evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole.
Researchers analyzed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.
Neuropharmacologist David Nutt, MD, of Imperial College London, and colleagues rated 20 different drugs on a scale that takes into account the various harms caused by a drug. Drugs are rated on nine harms a drug causes an individual and seven harms a drug causes society.
The scale, developed by a panel of experts called the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ICSD), ranges from 0 (no harm) to 100 (greatest possible harm). It is weighted so that a drug that scores 50 is half as harmful as a drug that scores 100.
“The highest and lowest overall harm scores … are 72 for alcohol and 5 for mushrooms,” Nutt and colleagues calculate. “The ICSD scores lend support to the widely accepted view that alcohol is an extremely harmful drug both to users and to society.”
Alcohol was found to be the most harmful drug to society and the fourth most harmful drug to users.
The findings should come as no surprise: Alcohol has been linked to more than 60 diseases.
Alcohol vs. Heroin & Other Drugs
“Alcohol does all kinds of things in the body, and we’re not fully aware of all its effects,” alcohol researcher James C. Garbutt, MD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recently told WebMD. “It’s a pretty complicated little molecule.”
Using the ICSD ratings, Nutt and colleagues rated 20 substances in terms of the overall harm they do. Their results:
Heroin, crack, and crystal meth were the most harmful drugs to the individual, while alcohol, heroin and crack were the most harmful to others.
According to this “multicriteria decision analysis approach,” alcohol is almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco.
Nutt and colleagues conclude that aggressively targeting alcohol harm is “a valid and necessary public health strategy.”
In an editorial accompanying the Nutt team’s report, Jan van Amsterdam of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and Wim van den Brink of the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction research note that the legal penalties prescribed by various nations’ drug policies are out of synch with the actual harms caused by different drugs.
“It is intriguing to note that the two legal drugs assessed — alcohol and tobacco — score in the upper segment of the ranking scale, indicating that legal drugs cause at least as much harm as do illegal substances,” van Amsterdam and van den Brink write.
The editorial and the Nutt study appear in the Nov. 1, 2011 Online First edition of The Lancet.blog comments powered by Disqus
- cervvselaphvs likes this
- skaterboytae reblogged this from skaterboytae
- bildungsroman reblogged this from ziyadmd
- whiteholedust likes this
- -xlvii likes this
- misslindaanguyen likes this
- pornwhore reblogged this from ziyadmd
- deofavente reblogged this from ziyadmd
- littlebigtham reblogged this from ziyadmd
- journey2greatness reblogged this from ziyadmd
- jorgelp reblogged this from van-damme
- van-damme reblogged this from ziyadmd
- howcansh3slap likes this
- itsgaytimeinthebathroom reblogged this from ziyadmd
- fahadsohail reblogged this from ziyadmd
- This was featured in #Science
- ziyadmd posted this