Social cost of alcohol makes it more harmful than heroin or crack

alcohol most abused drug

Alcohol is the deadliest drug according to a British study. Image: CC ginsnob/Flickr

Alcohol is more harmful than heroin and crack cocaine, according to a study of popular drugs by a British medical journal. Although other drugs are considered more dangerous, the social cost of alcohol was a critical factor in the study. The study, which examined 20 drugs for the damage they do to users as well as others, found LSD and ecstasy to be the least harmful.

Alcohol more harmful than any other drug

The cost of alcohol to society makes it the most harmful drug being abused in the U.K., according to a study published in the British medical journal Lancet. CNN reports that a panel of experts in the study factored in the physical, psychological and social problems caused by certain drugs. A scoring system created to evaluate the degree of danger gave alcohol 72 out of a possible 100 points. Heroin was the runner up with 55 points and crack cocaine was third with 54 points. Marijuana scored 20 points, ecstasy scored nine, LSD seven and mushrooms brought up the rear with five points.

Why alcohol beat heroin and crack cocaine

Alcohol is the most abused drug, and the fact that it’s legal and readily available makes it the most harmful to society, in front of heroin and crack cocaine. The study determined that heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals. Nine factors related to harm for the drug user were examined, such as dependence, injury and mortality. Six other factors examined related to harm caused to others, such as crime, economic cost and environmental damage. David Nutt, a co-author of the study, told BBC News that there are hundreds of thousands of people in Britain who crave alcohol and will go to “extraordinary lengths” to abuse it.

How alcohol does its damage

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 17.6 million adults are alcoholics. Addiction expert Dr. Jeffery Parsons told the New York Daily News that because it is legal and socially acceptable, many of these drinkers don’t think it’s a problem for them. He said that alcoholism doesn’t have the stigma of drug addiction because with alcohol, people can engage in drug abuse and still feel as if they are law abiding citizens — until they get arrested for drunk driving.



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