Monday, November 8, 2010

Alcohol MORE Dangerous than Crack and Heroin?

According to a study by Neuropharmacologist David Nutt, MD, of Imperial College London and his colleagues, alcohol rated to be the number one most dangerous drug to society and the fourth most dangerous drug to an individual user. Dr. Nutt, a former British government drug adviser and other experts used a scale developed by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) to determine how dangerous a drug or intoxicant is based on several factors including affect of use on individual and how the use affects family members. The scale rates drugs from 0 (least harmful) to 100 (most harmful) affects of the drug's use on an individual and society:
"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."

Alcohol vs. Heroin, Other Drugs

Using the ICSD ratings, Nutt and colleagues rated 20 substances in terms of the overall harm they do. Their results:

Alcohol 72
Heroin 55
Crack 54
Crystal meth 33
Cocaine 27
Tobacco 26
Amphetamine/speed 23
Cannabis (marijuana) 20
GHB 18
Benzodiazepines (e.g. valium) 15
Ketamine 15
Methadone 14
Mephedrone (aka drone, MCAT) 13
Butane 10
Khat  9
Ecstacy  9
Anabolic steroids  9
LSD  7
Buprenorphine  6
Mushrooms  5

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." - WebMD
Really this should not come as any surprise to anyone. Just because alcohol is a "socially acceptable" and legal form of intoxication, does not mean it is meant to be used by people. Since consuming alcohol doesn't break any social or legal code, I'd imagine the numbers are higher for alcohol because it is so widely use. Regardless, the use and abuse of alcohol can cause some serious issues, no matter what the law says. Aside from the acute and long term affects alcohol has on your liver, hormones, metabolism and general health, it would be unwise to turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering brought on by drunk driving accidents and other alcohol related incidents. Whether it be domestic violence, some really bad choices or the stress alcohol addiction can place on family members and friends, the truth is abusing alcohol really puts a lot at risk for an illusionary escape.

1 comment:

mb said...

This study just makes me feel even better about my decision to stop drinking.


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