Alcohol More Harmful Than Heroin, Cocaine or Ecstasy
You may not agree with this latest research, but drug experts state that alcohol is more harmful than heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and tobacco. This finding is the result of a new analysis that evaluated factors in a total of 16 categories regarding harm to self and to society.
Alcohol more likely to harm users and society
The research was presented by Professor David J. Nutt, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, of Imperial College London, along with the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, Dr. Leslie King, UK Expert Adviser to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, and Dr. Lawrence Phillips, London School of Economics and Political Science.
The new evaluation approach includes nine factors in the “harm to self” category that cover issues of mortality, poor health, impaired mental functioning, loss of friends, and injury. In the “harm to others” or society as a whole category, seven factors include crime, environmental damage, decline in community cohesion, and family conflict issues.
According to the study, when all the factors are combined, alcohol comes out on top as the most damaging drug, followed by heroin and cocaine. Individually, heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth were determined to be the most harmful drugs to individuals, while alcohol, heroin, and cocaine were the most harmful to society.
In the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2008, 51.6 percent of Americans age 12 and older used alcohol at least once in the 30 days before being surveyed and that 23.3 percent had binged (5 or more drinks within 2 hours) and 23.3 percent drank more than 5 drinks on 5 or more occasions.
The Institute also reported that in the same year, 453,000 Americans age 12 and older had abused heroin at least once in the year before the survey. When it came to cocaine, 5.3 million Americans age 12 and older had abused cocaine in any form, and 1.1 million had abused it at least once in the year before being surveyed.
The new report shows that alcohol is nearly three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco, and more than five times as harmful as mephedrone. Ecstasy is rated as only one-eighth as damaging as alcohol. Last year, Nutt was released as chairman of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs after he stated that ecstasy was less harmful than alcohol.
News that alcohol is more harmful than street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and ecstacy is likely surprising to many people. The authors of the new report state, however, that “our findings lend support to previous work in the UK and the Netherlands, confirming that the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm.”
National Institute on Drug Abuse