Alcohol is the Most Dangerous Drug

Psychoactive substances run the gamut from benign to extremely life-threatening. In 2016, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdose. However, there are many more deaths, injuries, and health problems that are influenced by substance use. Taking into account physical, psychological, and social problems caused by drugs, alcohol has been proven to be the most destructive.
A study in the British medical journal The Lancet found that alcohol is the overall most harmful drug in the world. Researchers examined the consequences of twenty drugs, and looked into drug-specific deaths, drug-related deaths, injury, damage to health, drug dependence, loss of relationships, crime, and a variety of other criteria. The study took into account sixteen points of criteria and ranked each drug on a scale of 0-100. Alcohol outranked all other substances studied with a ranking of 72.
Alcohol was found to be almost three times more harmful than cocaine or tobacco. However, the dangers posed by alcohol were not solely to the individual. Methamphetamine, heroin, and crack cocaine were found to the the most harmful drugs to the individual, while alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to other people. To put this in perspective, ecstasy, which can cause severe brain damage, dehydration, seizures, and death, was one one-eighth as harmful as alcohol.
A panel of experts from the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs pointed out that current classifications of drugs do not do enough to take into account the evidence of harm from each drugs. In a 2010 CNN article entitled Study: Alcohol ‘Most Harmful Drug’ Followed by Crack and Heroin, explains, “Panelists also noted that the rankings confirm other studies that say that ‘aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy.’” The study confirms that alcohol is a major problem to both the person who is taking drug as well as to the community in general.
Professor David Nutt, chair of the ISCD panels, said, “It is intriguing to note that the two legal drugs assessed — alcohol and tobacco — score in the upper segment of the ranking scale, indicating that legal drugs cause at least as much harm as do illegal substance”  Hopefully, lawmakers will be able to make decisions based on an in-depth understanding of how harmful certain substances are, and alcohol may be reexamined.

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