Alcohol more damaging than heroin, cocaine?

November 1st, 2010 - 1:53 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 1 (IANS) Alcohol is more damaging than heroin or crack cocaine in terms of harm to the individual as well as society, says a new study.

The study led by David Nutt, a professor at Imperial College, London, shows that when both factors - harm to the individual and society - are combined, alcohol is the most damaging drug, followed by heroin and crack cocaine, according to the Lancet.

The new assessment used nine categories of harm to the self and seven to society as a whole, reports the Telegraph.

The “harm to self” categories cover mortality, poor health, impaired mental functioning, loss of friendships and injury.

The “harm to others” categories include crime, environmental damage, family conflict and decline in community cohesion.

Heroin, crack and crystal meth were the most harmful drugs to the individual, whereas alcohol, heroin and crack were the most harmful to others.

The modelling showed that as well as being the most harmful drug overall, alcohol is almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco.

It also showed that alcohol is more than five times more harmful than mephedrone, which was recently a so-called legal high in the UK before it was made a class B controlled drug in April 2010.

Ecstasy, which has had much harm-related media attention over the past two decades, is only one eighth as harmful as alcohol in this new analysis.

They conclude: “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.”

Nutt was chairman of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs until he was dismissed last year after saying ecstasy was less harmful than alcohol.

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