Study: Alcohol Is the Most Dangerous Drug

Booze is more harmful than heroin or tobacco.

Study: Alcohol Is the Most Dangerous Drug

Booze is more harmful than heroin or tobacco.

-Jane Farrell

Two female friends drinking and laughing

We tend to think of street substances like heroin and crack as the most harmful drugs to users and to society. But researchers have some bad news for binge drinkers, party people and beer-pong fans: alcohol is a lot worse.

A study published in the respected British medical journal the Lancet ranked sixteen of the most harmful drugs according to their effect on addicts and society. Number one by far: alcohol. Heroin and crack were number 2 and 3 followed by meth (number 4) and cocaine (number 5).Tobacco was number 6.

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According to the BBC, which reported the study on its website, researchers ranked the drugs according to the amount of damage they cause, including mental and physical harm and costs to the economy and communities.

In recent years, health experts in the U.S. have focused on the damage caused by tobacco, while some local and state governments have imposed higher taxes on cigarettes. Local authorities and individual businesses have declared an increasing number of places (restaurants and hotels, for example). But other than drunk driving, there’s been less attention paid to the effects of alcoholism on society.

Dr. David Nutt, co-author of the study, which was done by his institute, the UK-based Independent Society on Drugs, told the BBC that alcohol is the most dangerous drug because it is the most common one. “Crack cocaine is more addictive than alcohol,” he said, “but because alcohol is so widely used there are hundreds of thousands of people who crave alcohol every day, and those people will go to extraordinary lengths to get it.”

The study didn’t recommend any specific actions for combating alcohol use. But Nutt and other researchers emphasized in the paper that “aggressively targeting alcohol [addiction] is a valid and necessary public-health strategy.” (bbc)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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