Alcohol the Most Dangerous Drug? Probably NotResearchers using their own classification and rating system in order to try and assess a drug’s overall harmful effects — not to oneself, but to society as a whole too — recently published their findings. Here’s what they found, according to various news outlets:

    The Most Dangerous Drugs? Alcohol, Heroin and Crack—in That Order
    TIME – Catherine Mayer

    Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack: study
    New York Daily News

    Study: Alcohol ‘most harmful drug,’ followed by crack and heroin
    CNN International

    Experts: Alcohol More Harmful Than Crack or Heroin
    WebMD – Tim Locke

If you just read the headlines, you’d think the study showed that the most dangerous drug available today is alcohol, based upon clinical or government data.

It’s easy to say that, too, because that’s what the authors also said in their study (published in The Lancet medical journal):

[H]eroin, crack cocaine, and metamfetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals, whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others. Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places.

Ah yes, that little thing we like to call complexity rears its ugly head. And oops, did we mention there’s no actual research data in the study?

31 Comments to
Alcohol the Most Dangerous Drug? Probably Not

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  1. Alcohol is the most dangerous drug? Duh! In the U.S nearly 30,000 deaths annually on roadways caused by alcohol, over 75,000 traumatic brain injuries resulting from falls while intoxicated, not to mention bar fights, unwanted pregnancies, std’s, domestic violence, need I go on? Yet marijuana, a drug which increases inhibitions and does not cause a loss of motor skills, is illegal?! Use your heads people. It’s simple. Drunk people are annoying slobbering, violent, and dangerous idiots. Prohibit alcohol and legalize pot.

    • i drink alcohol and i am angry .i smoke pot and i am nice.what is going on?why is pot more mellow than alcohol?

  2. I don’t disagree that alcohol-related injuries and deaths are significantly higher than anything except tobacco use (75,000/alcohol versus 400,000+/nicotine versus 12,000/illegal drug deaths in the U.S.). However, how much of that is due simply to the fact that alcohol is legal while other drugs are not?

    More importantly, the point of this article was to demonstrate that these researchers did not use actual government data or statistics to reach their conclusions. They reached them through simply a consensus of opinion. Interest data (which I would put just above anecdotal data), but not in the same league as crime or death statistics.

  3. How nowhere do you mention the serious effect alcohol has on the fetus. Fetal Alchool Syndrome Spectrum, alone does more damage to people than any other drug. It affects people and there families for a life time. Other drugs do not affect the fetus in any similar way.

  4. That the particular study in question isn’t really a ‘study’ is a good point. But the larger question of drug dangerousness is an issue that has been investigated for many years, and presumably the panel members based their opinions on review of the extensive information available.

    Let’s consider the comparison between alcohol and heroin. Alcohol causes organ damage and death in a substantial percentage of heavy drinkers. It is a specific liver toxin. Heroin, although highly addictive, causes no organ damage at all. Because of its illegality, it is sold adulterated with questionable substances, and some of these are harmful. Talcum, for instance, gets trapped in blood vessels. Dirty needles cause hepatitis, AIDS, and endocarditis. However, the drug itself is not damaging.

    The social disruption caused by alcohol is part and parcel of its intoxicating effect. The social disruption due to heroin is partly due to the drug’s neuropsychological effects, but mostly due (again) to its illegality. Its cost is artificially high, so destitute addicts are driven to steal, while gang members are drawn to peddle.

    So in this case, at least, there is little question that alcohol is more damaging not just because it is more commonly used, but because it is more dangerous. This is not to endorse heroin, of course, but it does suggest that the study was based, indirectly, on sound data.

  5. Well, a reasonable argument could be made for some of the other drugs on the list as well. And people have long held that nicotine hurts primarily the person who smokes it — ignoring the societal costs of taking care of those who can’t afford medical services when they get diagnosed with cancer.

    But to the point that the experts conducted a thorough and/or systematic literature and data review to arrive at their opinions, there’s no mention of such in the study. Instead, it looked like they simply had a guided group discussion –

    The group scored each drug on each harm criterion in an open discussion and then assessed the relative importance of the criteria within each cluster and across clusters.

    That’s the only sentence that specifically describes how they rated each drug. Not a whole lot to go on in terms of methodology, and it’s no wonder I was left scratching my head about the study’s methodology and data gathering processes.

    None of which is mentioned in any mainstream media coverage of the study (at least none that I could find).

  6. They are fortunate I was not part of their discussion group!

    On a single, titrated-safety dose level, I would have to rank cocaine and LSD up at the top. This is entirely anecdotal, but in situations involving both these drugs taken at a completely “safe” dosage, I’ve seen absolutely ghastly effects on people. An acquaintance of mine had a heart attack after doing two lines of cocaine. Another had a schizophrenic break after an LSD experience. In both cases, other people with them were just fine at the same “safe” dosage.

  7. It is also true that the diagnostic criteria based in the DSM – IV is based on a consensus of people gathered.

    I see no *real* difference between the two studies, really. The DSM – IV catergorizes people into different aspects of mental illness (as opposed to health). In doing so, those involved in this “consensus” to determine what a mental illness is, actually creates a lot of harm to individuals and society!

    Labeling people disables those people.

    The drugs used to “treat” these people labled as “mentally ill,” are costly and mostly ineffective. Reports show anti-depressants are no more effective than placebos. These placebo-like drugs create havoc on the people who actually take them, causing a disabling effect. Ever try to get OFF any of them without major side effects? How about the disabling side effects of the drugs themselves? Weight gain, diabetes, and multiple other side effects that cause untold trouble to the individual and society.

    Then, there’s the COST. You mention it for tobacco users. Yet the cost of these placebo-drugs is prohibitive. More and more of it falls to society, as those labled as “mentally ill” cannot afford treatment. We pay in the way of hospital emergency room trips; medical benefits for those who cannot afford, and worst of all, the numbers of people in prison! This is a societal cost based on nothing but “consensus” too.

    And let’s face it — there is *no* evidence to the idea that depression and other mental illnesses are a result of chemical changes in the brain. That idea is in itself, nothing but a “consensus.” There is *NO* data – scientific or otherwise – supporting this idea. Yet, people are drugged daily based on this “consensus.” You yourself have written on this fact, Doc John. But, the “professionals” are reluctant to disclose this fact. Indeed, it’s repeated so often that the myth of “chemical changes in the brain” has *almost* become a reality, rather than the “feel good” measure it is.

    And at the same time, the placebos, put forth as life saving treatment continue. The “professionals” refuse to disclose the fact that these drugs work no better than placebos. They remain silent because of the fear that this knowledge will take the “placebo effect” away! So, they continue to drug human beings, creating severe human and social costs, knowing it doesn’t work, due to a consensus that continuing the lie is better than the truth! This is how the “consensus” of mental health “professionals” determined treatment of individuals with difficult life circumstances should be treated. With callous indifference to the costs to the individuals and the society.

    I honestly do not see a wit of difference, John. Whether we are discussing the harm of tobacco or the lies creating the continuation of bogus treatment of individuals, “consensus” is not the way to set policy. “Just because we say so” is NOT a cause for the human suffering created by the lie of “chemical changes in the brain” and the pushing of life altering placebos – drugs which create havoc.

    It is irresponsible and inexcusable that these practices continue without one iota of evidence to support the practices, yet with the exhorbinant cost of them to the individuals involved and the society at large.

    In my opinion, both of these practices – the consensus of mental illness catagorizing seen in the DSM IV, and the consensus to continue in silence with the delivery of ineffective and expensive life altering placebos – in the mental health field need to be changed for the benefit of both the individual and society. In fact, stopping these behaviors is the only moral and ethical thing to do!

  8. It’s not hard to see how it can be considered more dangerous to our society as a whole, but if you look at it from a statistical standpoint, the data measurements aren’t really apples to apples.

    There is an old statistic that says most accidents occur within 25 miles of home – well … nearly all of our driving is done within that same radius.

    The widespread use does indicate higher numbers, but as you say in the article,

    “Alcohol is indeed the drug that does society the most harm, according to the researchers, but this may be a factor related to its wide distribution and popularity. And the fact that it is one of the few legal drugs most citizens can enjoy.”

    The more it’s used, the more it has the potential to be abused. Just my 2 cents. Thx

  9. sunflower55, you’re clearly a scientologist. “Those” as you refer to the people who create DSM are highly experienced psychologists who actually help people. And labeling doesn’t disable anyone, it helps you get an insight in your disorder.
    I don’t agree that alcohol is worst then cocaine, heroin and LSD, but it’s bad nevertheless. This study results may be misled, but it’s only one bad study and it doesn’t prove the point of your comment.

  10. Sunflower, you may be correct in stating that antidepressants are no more effective than placebos if you qualify that statement by saying “in the treatment of MILD to MODERATE depression.” In the treatment of SEVERE depression, the efficacy improves greatly and there’s a much bigger difference between the performance of the antidepressants and the placebos. So while most don’t benefit much from the drugs, the ones who need them most actually do benefit. And yes, I agree from personal experience that the side effects suck.

    As far as the point of Dr. John’s article, I think it’s refreshing to see someone read and critique something that has sparked such dramatic headlines. People swallow what other people tell them much too easily, and in this case, there’s no data to support the conclusion other than the opinions of 15 experts from one country.

  11. If you consider all the ways alcohol hurts both the person consuming it and others –
    1. The organs and other body systems damaged;
    2. Its contribution to other medical problems;
    3. Fetal alcohol syndrome and other birth defects;
    4. Its role (along with tobacco) as a gateway drug more prevalent than any of the illegal drugs;
    5. The myriad forms of behavioral harm – DWI, its contribution to a high percentage of domestic and other violence, its frequent role in suicide; and
    6. Economic impact – loss of productivity due to absenteeism and lowered alertness and cognitive clarity -

    It’s hard to escape the conclusion that a more methodologically solid study might well agree that alcohol is the most harmful drug in use today. I’d like to see such a study done and the results widely published.

    We have a cultural blind spot about alcohol’s destructiveness because it has been an accepted substance for all of human history, but if you look at it simply as a chemical, and do a thought experiment imagining that this chemical was not discovered until today, the most likely outcome would be that OSHA would ban workplace exposure without protective equipment to avoid accidental ingestion. We would almost certainly not consider putting it in bottles and drinking it for recreational purposes.

    • herp derp organ damage,

      You do realize cells regenerate?????

  12. Alcohol is legally available in most countries, but where the Anti-Prohibitionists got their policy settings wrong was they allowed the mass marketing and widespread distribution of the product.
    Alcohol is a toxic, addictive and carcinogenic substance – why would any nation allow an advertising executive to portray it as some kind of harmless fun activity? Hard to see the logic of that.
    In Australia, we have crippled the tobacco industry, although it festers still. Latest debate is around plain packaging. That’s right folks, soon, all tobacco will be sold via Times New Roman and plastered with graphic ads displaying the harms done by this toxic, addictive and carcinogenic drug.
    No one wanting tobacco will be prevented from buying it, but, the creation of that ‘want’ is very much illegal.
    Big Tobacco is so ostracised here that executives and workers feel a sense of shame working for them. Lower than prostitution in some peoples eyes.
    This is the sort of effective ‘treatment’ we need for the alcohol industry – Big Liquor.
    Every policy discussion surrounding alcohol needs to come down to one bottom line: ‘Does this policy adjustment result in less tonnages of alcohol sold?’
    For each ton sold surely brings harms to the addicted individuals involved and the many, many innocent victims affected by them.
    I’ve no idea how or why a health professional would be motivated to go against that kind of attitude.
    The Pedestrian 08 Campaign recognises that alcohol is a drug that is best tracked and controlled by setting and expecting conformance to Blood Alcohol Content standards – set for each activity.
    For example we have almost eliminated drink driving via setting a BAC of point 05, continually advertising it, and backing that up with real action via teams of police undertaking Random Breath Tests. Each Australian motorist will be breath tested, on average, once or twice a year. 2 minutes lost for a good cause.
    The Pedestrian 08 Campaign is what it sounds like it is. Setting a standard for pedestrians and expecting them to keep their drug intake in control. Helping them with a program of advertising backed up by RBT teams.
    Following a proven model of harm reduction.

  13. Zoran,
    You could not be farther from the facts with your own “labeling” of me as a scientologist!
    No, I am not.

    I am a human being who survived the mental health system. Twice.

    Have you ever been overmedicated, Zoran?

    I won’t argue with you.
    But, look at the facts at *how* the DSM-IV is put together.
    John won’t disagree. It’s nothing but “consensus.”

    Helping?
    Hardly!

    Talk to some other survivors. They are around — in large numbers, Z

    Peace!

  14. Sunflower55, I had to apologize to you for labeling, you got it right there, and I’m really sorry. It’s only that you’re post reminded me of cchr views which is a scientology branch. DSM is a consensus but you can’t discredit it so lightly cause it’s made by experienced professionals. Ofcourse you can’t make a lab test to see if one has a mental disorder, but there is clear distinction between mental disorder and physical illness, and just as you can’t treat a flue with talk therapy you can’t diagnose depression or ocd by taking blood tests. And talking about it, chemical dis-balance with mental disorders is scientifically proven.
    As Paul Komarnicki said, meds really help for some severe cases of depression. I’m sorry meds didn’t work for you, I hope you’ll find a solution that’ll work. I was only lucky that I had a mild ocd, and psychoanalysis worked for me. But from all the material I’ve read the best treatment still is a combination of the right medications and talk therapy.

  15. Saying that antidepressant medications are no more helpful than placebos is just outright rubbish. While I am sympathetic to the idea due to my own experiences, I am now being treated successfully with one of these medications. At 37 years old, I have been prescribed many different antidepressant medications over the course of my life and many did not suit my needs- that does not mean they don’t work. It is simply a matter of trial and error- you have to keep trying til you find the correct medications and most people will not give the time or effort necessary to do that.
    Medicine is a tricky thing. There are crooks in the medical world just like every other area of life and people have to be their own best advocates.I know that for the rest of my life I will be treating my disorder- I used to think that one day I would be cured and life would be perfect, but that just is not the case. Most disorders are with us til we are six feet under. At least I know there is treatment that works, I just wish it would not have taken so long to find the correct treatment.

  16. I have no need to argue.
    Read for yourself. There’s plenty of information out there for those who *want* to know the facts. Here is but one informative article.
    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/28/the-depressing-news-about-antidepressants.html

    And the consensus to keep this information on the QT is unethical, *in my opinion.* Fear of losing the “placebo effect” is not a reason to drug millions of people. These drugs have very harmful side effects. And the mixture of multiple drugs, “polypharmacology,” is even more dangerous. There is no way of knowing what the mixture of these harmful drugs will do to a person – short term or long term. They are playing with people’s MINDS! And it’s too dangerous to do so.

    Pam, I’m not convinced that those with major depression are helped with these drugs either. Those with major depression normally are involved in talk therapy as well. There’s no way to determine if the therapy is not the helping factor rather than the drugs. My guess is that the therapy is far more helpful, considering the danger involved with drug therapy.

    On the other hand, the fact that the people who put together the DSM-IV are professionals is irrelevant to what my point is. The point, (like John’s in his review of the study above), is that the DSM-IV is nothing but a consensus. There is no data whatsoever to back up anything they created in the “Bible” of mental illness. Have you noticed how it’s grown over the years? How many “new” mental illnesses there are? Have you noticed the overlap of symptoms? Have you noticed that just about *every person* can be diagnosed under the DSM-IV with some type of a mental illness?

    The issue is that consensus is not the way to prove anything. It doesn’t prove the point in the alcohol study above, nor does it prove any of the diagnoses in the DSM-IV.

  17. sunflower55,
    No one is trying to argue here. What we are trying to do is shed some light about the dangerous views that can prevent people from seeking the help they need.
    These views has started and are spread from the church of scientology via their branch cchr. Do some search on scientology and you’ll find that their goal is to discredit psychiatrist and psychiatry as a science at all costs. I’ve watched their documentaries and I almost believed them. But given some thought you’ll see that they go too far with their claims and you can easily see through their lies.
    Regarding DSM, it is made by consensus which comes from years and years of psychiatrist’s experience in treating mental disorders. And yes there is data to backup the classifications, huge amounts of data. Yes it gets bigger with each new edition, now that’s called progress, why would you think it’s a bad thing. Clear classification and distinction of mental disorders is much needed for the right approach and right treatment of a given disorder. Example, depression and bipolar depression are distinctive disorders which require different kind of treatment, and that is clearly reflected in DSM.
    Do you think DSM will have to list fewer disorders in each edition, maybe we should go back 100 years ago when all disorders, bipolar, ocd, general anxiety etc had all been considered as one disorder, they called it hysteria.
    Scientology says that psychiatrist invent new disorders in order to boost sales of new meds, don’t you think it is a bit more than strange. And who would you believe, psychiatrists with years of knowledge and experience, or some organization which calls itself church so it can avoid paying taxes. If anyone choose the later, I would beg you, please, please reconsider.
    Regarding meds, they work and there are a lot of people who can confirm this. People who live their lives without distress caused by their mental disorders thanks to these meds. They have side effects, true, as it is true for every medication there is. Trying different medications until the right one is discovered is also true, but please consider that we’re dealing with mind processes here, a bit of strange territory. A lot of experimenting is needed, time also, but eventually a good pill will be discovered, only if we leave these people do their work and not undermining it.
    And again, please don’t say there are no mental disorders, that they are all invented. Mental disorders are so real, which is sad, but there is a solution. I just can’t understand how can someone advise people not to seek help for disorders which are ruining their lives, while there are different kinds of medications and talk therapies which are proven to work.

  18. Non-Sense…the moat damaging to the brain are the volative solvents….Heavy alcohol use takes years to inflict significant damage.
    Toc Doc

  19. Anyone who states that anti-depressants are of little help in treating major depression has obviously neither treated nor been treated for this condition. As a clinician who has seen thousands of clients over a 20+ year period, I can say unequivically that anti-depressants have saved lives. Research into the biology of the brain is disspelling the myth that somehow there is no physiological basis for psychological disorders. If one wants to believe the Scientologists, they shouldn’t be licensed to practice psychology, period.

  20. The issue of antidepressants depends on genetic factors, what workked for your father, grand father , combined with psychoyherapy is a winner….All these new SSRI’s do not necessarily work . by the time the patient tries 3 or 4 “Expensive Brand Named SSRI’s…Lexapro, Cymbalta, etc for 21 days, most Major depression , with time will lift with supportive care anyway….drugs or not….. MD’s choose these in that patient’s can take a pound of Prozac and , maybe vomit. The tricyclics are very effective. but also very toxic….the CYA practitioners want to use …ALWAYS what they have samples of…what drug sales rep has left them…or what shows up on those peripherial brains.hand held Palm or epocrates, loaded with “Biased Information”… (with the old tricyclics. all are cheap and generic) in normalizing somatic complaints…the patient gains back the 60 lbs lost over 2 months, sleep patterns normalize, and with psychotherapy the patient, through education,…this is what you have…it will pass with time just don’t end your life when you are feeling hopeless, helpless, and want to act on destructive/ suicidial Ideation. Feelings are not FACTS.
    I have found from over 30+ years that physicians tend to prescribe what is “Popular” beginning with Prozac. However, patients who have severe insomnia, no appetite, almost always assiociated with anxiety, do better with the tricyclics…I am sure I will get a lot of “Hate Mail”…comments about this…..Thing is , I DO NOT CARE, one bit! I care about the patient, not the $ or fear of being sued… Those of you who know me, know, I call it as I see it, and I have seen plenty !) . I have seen it for 30+ years…if it is situational, it matters not …Psychotherapy works with a New Expensibe SSRI as long as they get therapy whether or not it is a placebo or a New Expensive antidepressant….that is not what is getting the patient better, it is simply CYA medicine at it’s best…..and again ( FOLLOW THE MONEY! Please, I beg you, Folks…I am just keeping it REAL, let’s not buy into this non-sense ). Physicians know that 30 days of Prozac or Zoloft all at once as a suicide attempt is not lethal…nor is it of much therapeutic value either, unless you convince them it wlll work and they believe it will as well..then here comes comes “Cognitive Dissonance”.

    Yes smmoking and heavy drinking is “Suicide on the Installent Plan”…I know of daily heavy drinkers who never had real problems until retirement…Yes, Crack brings people to their knees MUCH Quicker, Meth causes actual brain DAMAGE…SNIFFING/HUFFING VOLITILE SOLVENTS ARE DEFINATELY THE MOST DAMAGING TO THE BRAIN.!!!!…period.
    Socially, I believe % wise and accident wise alcohol is more destructive. My Opinion on THC has changed over 30 years in that aside from adolescent use and it producing Amotivational Syndrome , now that is a significant problem with canninis , but only in adolescents…. it is a significant problem. I am not against THC as I once was, but I’ve only been in medicine 30+ years ….what do I know ???? about Pharmagology and Toxicology…the United States and the courts in 3 states say I am an expert…
    So, Take what I say that you beleve and leave the rest….what do they know ??? At least I have the courage to tell it like I see it as always…come on get some courage you guys speak the reality….don’t be afraid of the government, the FDA, the DEA, the Pharmaceutical Companies…….separate medicine from legalities and fear. Our Oath or Oaths in my case, is to the Patient not the government or the Pharmaceutical companies….What say you ??

  21. Really??? This article was published in the Lancet?? This is not a rigorous study by any stretch of the imagination and the conclusions are not driven by empirical data. I’m rather stunned….

  22. I saw this poll (and many related articles that followed) when it first came out. It shows how easily ‘perceptions’ can be formed based on little and-or the lack of accurate, scientific data.

    Thank you for posting John.

  23. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but years of research in the FIELD OF PSYCHOLOGY and NEUROLOGY support this. Alcohol targets the MEDULLA (part of the brain necessary for breathing, heart rate, basic living functions). Heroin, does NOT affect the medulla. Alcohol overdose is extremely common and the point at which it can be fatal or cause irreversible damage is at a lower ratio than almost any other drug on the market. The ratio for heroin overdose is lower than alcohol. In addition, alcohol withdrawal can be FATAL, causing grand mal seizures and fatal tremors. While withdrawal on heroin might FEEL like death, it CANNOT cause death. Alcohol also impairs judgment and inhibitions, which is a huge factor in vehicular accidents, domestic violence and assaults. Most heroin users do not drive cars, although they have been noted to be associated to domestic violence and assault cases (Although most of these cases involve heroin addicts with predisposed psychosis disorders). Also (as others mentioned above) reduced inhibitions leads to unwanted pregnancies, the spreading of Sexually Transmitted Infections, among other things. Heroin can potentially cause the spreading of diseases through intravenous routes of administration, but heroin can also be taken orally and sublingually. Alcohol is also HIGHLY addictive and because the chemicals break up in your organs, alcohol overdose or overindulgence can severely damage organs. Heroin is also highly addictive, but does not affect your organs.

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get informed. You are right with your point of not allowing propaganda to persuade you. But, you are NOT right in asserting that alcohol is NOT dangerous. Alcohol IS AN INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS DRUG, and one of the most dangerous of all mainstream drugs. Yes, even more dangerous than crack and heroin psychologically, physiologically, neurologically and biopsychologically. Get the facts. Do the research. There has been over 15 years of research in the field of drugs done by both federal and private organizations that support this assertion.

  24. Scotty – I didn’t say it was or wasn’t a dangerous drug; what I said is that it’s hard to assert it’s the “most dangerous drug” in the world.

    There is no scientific, randomized controlled research studies that demonstrate that alcohol is “the most dangerous drug” in the world. That is the point of this blog entry — that a small group of people got together and decided upon this label.

    No one is debating whether any drug, when abused, doesn’t result in harmful effects to one’s body, and to society in general. That’s true of any drug today.

    The focus on alcohol is two-fold (as I noted in the original blog entry): it’s legal in most countries and it’s widely available in most countries. Because of its widespread use (and abuse), it is responsible for a much higher percentage of population harm.

    If you want to reduce alcohol’s harmful impact on the individual and society, there’s a simple, effective solution — prohibition. But it was tried once and didn’t go over too well…

  25. Amphetamine is spelt wrong on the graph.

  26. Actually, it’s not. Amfetamine is the International Nonproprietary Name spelling.

  27. Scotty is 100% wrong with his assessment of heroin. It is shown to cause liver, kidney, and most often circulatory damage.

    But the point of my post was to agree with Dr. Grohol, the reason that alcohol is rated as #1 is simply because it is legal. Look at how they ranked these. They broke it down into I believe 16 criteria, and decided alcohol was the worst. Well, if you look at this data, it shows the biggest factor in making alcohol the worst is economic costs. This is purely because it is legal and there is no arguing that. Injury was also a good chunk of alcohol score, which is purely based on numbers. If you use crime statistics and government data and judge it on a PER USER bases not on overall alcohol is no where near the top. around 25% of all people who try herion end up becoming hard addicts, which is way higher than alcohol. The average alcohol user does not live to use alcohol, the average hard drug user does live to do drugs.

    Remember this study was also done in the UK by “experts” who have probably never used hard drugs. Methamphetamine is probably, neurologically much worse than alcohol, addiction rates PER USER are much higher, and the rate of sobriety is much lower. In the UK meth is no where near as bad as heroin.

    Third, this so called study really didnt show anything about the impact of the average user. The average user of alcohol is pretty well adjusted. The average user of heroin spends over $1000 a month on it and dies MUCH sooner than the average user of alcohol. Now when you are talking about neurotoxicity yes alcohol is bad heroin is not. Both drugs have bad drawbacks and it seems quite pointless to point out the “most harmful” really I think the only thing that came from this study was a waste of British tax money.

    Although I agree with most of your points Dr Grohol your statement about prohibition contradicts itself. You say there is a simple, effective solution, prohibition, but it doesn’t work very well. See what I mean. The only way to really stem drug use would be to a) decriminalize, but not legalize, drug possession. b) drug dealing, especially in hard drugs, could be a capital offense as it is in many countries with low drug use. c) Government run clinics that give users their drugs that are CLEAN, not horribly cut like on the street, and also make addicts go to treatment classes and eventually get sober. This would also put drug dealers far out of business, and there would be not nearly as much crime.
    You must know doctor that an addict will always get their high even if all drugs are totally banned, including alcohol. So why not give it to them (as Switzerland does) in a clean, harm reducing environment, instead of forcing them to pay outrageous amounts on the street. We have to teach people to live without it. Prevention over persecution.

    • Scotty is wrong with his assessment of heroin when talking about the organ damage, the liver/kidney problems you mentioned chase are not even comparable to the damage caused to major organs by alcohol, however yeah heroin/any intervenous drugs can cause major problems with the circulatory system. But lets for a second not compare alcohol to hard drugs such as heroin/crack and methamphetamine, and compare it to less harmful drugs such as cannabis, mdma, lsd etc. Sorry in advance for this wall of text incoming but this is some quotes from the UK drug awareness website talk to frank, “There’s no evidence to suggest LSD does any long-term damage to the body or long-term psychological damage. ”

      The same article about LSD also mentions,
      “Supplying someone else, including your friends, with LSD can get you a life sentence and an unlimited fine.”

      I will not bore you by making a list of all the many health problems both mental and physical alcohol can concoct, but the point is, is that alcohol has the big thumbs up from mr government. Even though, by their own admission, the drug [alcohol] is more dangerous than most of the drugs which are available illegally.

      Not to say I believe that alcohol should be illegal due to the harsh nature of its effects, but suggesting that in this so called “free world”, people who are legally adults should be aloud to make their own choices to what they wish to do with their bodies, that is the excuse as to why alcohol and tobacco are legal, so why should it not apply to most/all other drugs? Not to mention the amount of lives that could be saved by guaranteeing people 100% purity in products, especially for cases like heroin, crack, and ecstasy. Im not defending other narcotics, even drugs like cannabis are still harmful to an extent, but come on… its far from criminal.

      Well anyway I dont know if anyone is actually going to take the time and read this/ if this forum is still active but if you are, thanks for your time :)

  28. This is ridiculous. Alcohol obviously causes more harm to society, only because a person can purchase alcohol legally. If heroin, crack-cocaine and crystal meth was to be legalized, then the disastrous impact it would have on every community would be so terrible that the damage would be irreversible. Those narcotics ruined my neighbourhood. Witnessed it all.

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