Alcohol More Dangerous Than Heroin, Study Finds

In terms of overall cost to individuals and society, alcohol is worse than heroin, crystal meth, and crack cocaine, and far worse than cannabis and psychedelics, a British professor has found.

Professor David Nutt, who was fired by the British government for his controversial views on drugs, has refused to leave the fray over drug policy. He released the rankings from his new group, the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, which aims to take a look at the issue from a policy and health standpoint without the interference of politics.

The study was conducted by a panel of experts.

Members of the group, joined by two other experts, scored each drug for harms including mental and physical damage, addiction, crime and costs to the economy and communities.
The modelling exercise concluded that heroin, crack and methylamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, were the most harmful drugs to individuals, but alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to society.
When the scores for both types of harm were added together, alcohol emerged as the most harmful drug, followed by heroin and crack.

Even though these findings, which contravene both British and U.S drug policy (not to mention conventional wisdom) are controversial, Nutt sticks by them, explaining that the focus on a small minority of heavy drug users ignores the wider issue of which substances affect the most people.

"Overall, alcohol is the most harmful drug because it's so widely used," he told the BBC." "Crack cocaine is more addictive than alcohol 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."

Read the full story at the BBC.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at November 1, 2010, 2:41am