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Monday, November 1, 2010

Alcohol is more Harmful than Heroin or Crack

A new study, funded by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies in London, was recently published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, where a panel examined the problems caused by a variety of drugs; they determined that alcohol, heroin and crack were the most harmful to others while heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful to individual users, CNN reported. "Both in terms of the medical consequences as well as societal consequences, I agree that alcohol ranks very high in overall harmfulness," Dr. Petros Livados, director of the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, told the News. "Alcohol has tremendous repercussions in our society in terms of drunk driving and societal consequences.”

According to the Lancet, twenty drugs were scored on 16 criteria – nine had to do with the harms the drug being examined did to an individual and seven dealt with the harms a drug does to others. The drugs were scored out of 100 points and alcohol had the highest score, meaning it was the most harmful substance overall:

  • Alcohol - 72 points
  • Heroin - 55 points
  • Crack Cocaine - 54 points

It is easy to see drugs like heroin, crack, and methamphetamine being the most harmful because of the social stigmas associated with those drugs, but, alcohol is more dangerous and alcoholism remains a serious problem for millions of people. People think that the fact that alcohol is legal and access to it is always around the next corner that it is somehow less harmful to the mind and body. Oftentimes people who suffer from an alcohol problem will not consider what they have as a problem, but, almost 17.6 million adults in the United States either are alcoholics or have alcohol problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. "It is legal and socially sanctioned, so it does not carry the same stigma and issues that illegal drugs do," says Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, chair of the psychology department at Hunter College. "But the negative health consequences of alcohol are even greater than with many illegal drugs.”

NY Daily News

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