Alcohol: The Most Dangerous Drug

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You may want to think twice before going to happy hour tonight.

Alcohol is more dangerous than heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines, at least according to a new study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, evaluated the dangers that various drugs pose to the user’s mental and physical health, as well as the harm it may cause the community, in terms of crime and health care costs.

The researchers found that heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful drugs to the person using them, but alcohol was the most harmful to the community, and overall, when all the factors were added up, alcohol ranked as the most dangerous drug with a score of 72. By comparison, heroin, the next highest, had a score of 55, and other drugs like tobacco, cannabis and LSD scored just a fraction of that.

It should be noted of course that these results are based on data for drug use and costs in Britain, not the U.S. Moreover, some of these criteria, like the effect the drug has on family members, may vary from situation to situation. That said, the study is useful for reaffirming the fact that alcohol can be very harmful, not just for the person drinking, but also for those around him or her.

The obvious question then is whether we need to enforce stricter laws to regulate alcohol consumption here, in the way that we already do with the other drugs on the list. Do you think that’s a smart idea, or should alcohol continue to be largely unregulated? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Check out MainStreet’s roundup of the countries that consume the most drugs.

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