A study published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet compared the harms caused by the misuse of a variety of drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine (crystal meth), marijuana, crack cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and alcohol (yes, it is a legal liquid drug). The researchers looked the addictive properties of the drug, how it affects the health of the individual using it, and the social and community costs. Social costs included factors such as the drug’s role in breaking up families, incarceration costs, and deaths due to the actions of the person using the drug.
On an individual level, heroin, crack, and meth were the most deadly. On a societal level, alcohol was by far the deadliest, followed by heroin and crack. When all harms were tallied, alcohol came up the clear winner in the “World’s Most Dangerous Drug” contest. It has the most devastating consequences for everyone–the drinker and those around him or her.
Scientists and addiction experts agree that the problem lies not with the vast majority of people who enjoy a glass or two of alcoholic beverage, but problem drinkers…and a culture that is tacitly tolerant of inappropriate drinking. Think about tailgating parties at football games, underage rite-of-passage high school keggers, and all the funny and sexy commercials for alcoholic beverages. The message is that alcohol is fun, until it turns deadly.
According to the report on WRAL.com,
When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.
Experts said the study should prompt countries to reconsider how they classify drugs.”Drugs that are legal cause at least as much damage, if not more, than drugs that are illicit,” said Wim van den Brink, a professor of psychiatry and addiction at the University of Amsterdam.
At HensonFuerst, we see the aftermath of this lethal drug in the mangled lives of people we represent who were hit by a drunk driver. While this study cannot be be called good news, it certainly validates what personal injury lawyers have known for years: Alcohol really is the most harmful drug in the world.