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New Study Suggests Alcohol Is 'More Harmful' Than Heroin, Cocain

BBC News via YellowBrix

November 01, 2010

LONDON – Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack, according to a study published in medical journal the Lancet.

The report is co-authored by Professor David Nutt, the former UK chief drugs adviser who was sacked by the government in October 2009.

It ranks 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society.

Tobacco and cocaine are judged to be equally harmful, while ecstasy and LSD are among the least damaging.

Prof Nutt refused to leave the drugs debate when he was sacked from his official post by the former Labour Home Secretary, Alan Johnson.

He went on to form the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, a body which aims to investigate the drug issue without any political interference.

One of its other members is Dr Les King, another former government adviser who quit over Prof Nutt’s treatment.

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 modeling 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. ‘Valid and necessary’

The findings run contrary to the government’s long-established drug classification system, but the paper’s authors argue that their system – based on the consensus of experts – provides an accurate assessment of harm for policy makers.

“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,” the paper says.

“They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports that aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy.”

In 2007, Prof Nutt and colleagues undertook a limited attempt to create a harm ranking system, sparking controversy over the criteria and the findings.

The new more complex system ranked alcohol three times more harmful than cocaine or tobacco. Ecstasy was ranked as causing one-eighth the harm of alcohol.

It also contradicted the Home Office’s decision to make so-called legal high mephedrone a Class B drug, saying that alcohol was five times more harmful. The rankings have been published to coincide with a conference on drugs policy, organised by Prof Nutt’s committee. ‘Extraordinary lengths’

Prof Nutt told the BBC: "Overall, alcohol is the most harmful drug because it’s so widely used.

“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.”

He said it was important to separate harm to individuals and harm to society.

The Lancet paper written by Prof Nutt, Dr King and Dr Lawrence Phillips, does not examine the harm caused to users by taking more than one drug at a time.

Gavin Partington, spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said millions of people enjoyed alcohol “as part of a regular and enjoyable social drink”.

“Clearly alcohol misuse is a problem in the country and our real fear is that, by talking in such extreme terms, Professor Nutt and his colleagues risk switching people off from considering the real issues and the real action that is needed to tackle alcohol misuse,” he said.

“We are talking about a minority. We need to focus policy around that minority, which is to do with education, treatment and enforcement.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our priorities are clear – we want to reduce drug use, crack down on drug-related crime and disorder and help addicts come off drugs for good.”

  • Sfa_iv_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Ok...What am I to do with this information? Does it stop anything?

  • Portrait_-copy_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    For the sake of this forum , this research is being looked at from the Law Enforcment point of view, while I can understand the conclusions of ther findings , we may not agree with them . There are definately more alcholics than crack heads and junkies , and the damage and harm done by alcholics i.e: domestic violence , DUI deaths , are more prevelant. Now with that being said" bartender where the heck is my beer " ?

  • Koda_thanksgiving_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    “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.”

    I just cant recall the last time I have ever heard of someone breaking into a house or robbing people so they could buy alcohol, and going to a bar or your 7-11 is not extraordinary.

    I really would like to know what his basis is for this test conclusion

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    Whoa,Nellie.That sounds exactly like the argument all crack heads use.It's all bad .Tantamont to saying it's more fun to stab yourself to death than a gunshot to the temple.I have to give bluelinefarms a bump on this.

  • Vpsomourningband_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Professor Nutt is cracked... um, I think his career is roasted.

  • Police_link_badge_max50


    almost 4 years ago



  • Pug_max600_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Definite proof that professors go crazy by Degrees. Define harmful? He left off smoking TBac.

  • Nado_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    i wonder which drug he is on

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Bump Casscocop.

  • Back_off____1_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This “professor” is probably a teetotaler LOL, all he’s done is made a fool out of himself and his profession!

  • Me2_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    bump casscocop-- this is the educated look at it, not the street view.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    Looking at a one on one approach, I would far rather deal witn one alcoholic that one crack/meth head. and i think that one crack/meth head has a far greater inpact on society than one alcoholic.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    I have one very simple question for the Nutty Professor because I think he has a serious logic flaw. Let's look at the numbers: Of 100 people over 21, 100 can LEGALLY drink alcohol. 95 probably have. 70 do it socially. 20 probably abuse. 5 have probably wrecked their lives and/or harmed people around them. How about with METH or any other serious street drugs? Of 100 people over 21, ZERO can LEGALLY do street drugs. 30 probably have. 10 probably do it socially but only for a very short period of their lives. 2 probably abuses. Of those, probably 100% have wrecked their lives or harmed someone around them.

    Do the math if 300 million Americans could LEGALLY abuse. I mean are you kidding me? Let's say there are 200 million people above the age of 21. If 100% of those people could have tried Crystal Meth legally, and 70% had (of course the % would be high because it would be LEGAL if it weren't ILLEGAL...) that would mean 140 million people. Now call me cynical, but I doubt there are very many recreational METH users. Let's just be generous and say 40% become hardcore users. That would be 56 million METH addicts. How many of those would wreck their lives or harm those around them??? About 56 million... Does LE have the ability to police 56 million METH addicts and all crimes related to the supply/distribution, and customer procurement of METH and its wreckage to society? C'mon Nutty Professor. Do the math. Your research is dangerous because you are implying that many illegal street drugs aren't as harmful, but you are obviously looking at overall numbers. You need to look at usage rates if the drugs were LEGAL, addiction rates if the drugs were READILY AVAILABLE, and wreckage rates once addicted. I think about the only drug at that point that would even have a farts chance in hell on being less damaging to society than alcohol might be marijuana.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    Just goes to show you that anyone can get a formal education and still be an idiot

  • Me2__1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I have to agree with Baxter2, too ( no pun intended)

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