Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Alcohol Is Most Harmful Drug, Followed By Heroin And Crack
The following article is a summary from the original that can be found at :
Alcohol is the most damaging drug to the drinker and others overall, heroin and crack are the second and third most harmful, Professor David Nutt and colleagues wrote in the medical journal The Lancet. When all factors related to self harm and harm to others are considered, alcohol comes out top.
In this latest report, Nutt and colleagues used a multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) when reviewing drug harms. Nine criteria related to harm to an individual from a drug, while six looked at harm to others. The harms were gathered into five subgroups that covered social, psychological and physical harms. Scoring was done with points up to 100, with 100 being the most damaging and zero no damage. Weighting then compared the impact a score of 100 had on all the other criteria, thus identifying the 100-points-scoring-drugs which were more harmful than other 100-points-scoring-drugs.
Not only is alcohol the most harmful drug overall, the authors write, but is nearly three times as harmful as tobacco or cocaine, according to the new ISCD MCDA modeling.
Mephedrone, which was recently a legal-high in the UK before it was re-categorized as a Class B controlled drug this year. Alcohol is over five-times as harmful as mephedrone.
Ecstasy is just one-eighth as harmful as alcohol, despite all its media attention and public concerns.
In an associated Comment, also in The Lancet, Dr. Jan Van Amsterdam, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Netherlands, and Dr Wim van den Brink, Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, wrote:
"A major point not addressed in the study, because it was outside their scope, is polydrug use, which is highly prevalent among recreational drug users. Notably, the combined use of alcohol with other drugs often leads in a synergistic way to very serious adverse effects."
They also explain that consuming combinations of these drugs can significantly alter their adverse events and harm impacts. For example, magic mushrooms on their own have a very low incidence of adverse events, but individuals who consume mushrooms as well as alcohol have a much higher risk of accidents that result in death. Other examples of combinations mentioned include alcohol with cocaine, leading to cocaethylene - an extremely toxic compound, or alcohol with cannabis which can seriously affect an individual's ability to drive properly.