Alcohol Deadlier than Cocaine and Heroin
A new study reveals that alcohol is deadlier than even dangerous drugs such as crack cocaine and heroin. The research was done by British experts who evaluated substances such as alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin and ranked them according to their debilitating effects on individuals and society.
The substances were evaluated on their addictive qualities, harmfulness, the environmental damage caused by them, role in affecting family life and economic costs including prison, social services and health care.
Alcohol is the Most Lethal
To individuals, crystal meth, crack cocaine and heroin were the among the deadliest. To society as a whole, crack cocaine, heroin and alcohol proved the most lethal. But for overall effect, alcohol ranked the highest, beating other substances. Heroin, crack cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and marijuana ranked lower than alcohol. This study was recently published online in Lancet, a medical journal.
Alcohol can be Devastating
Experts opine that alcohol ranks high because of its wide usage and devastating effects on not just drinkers but also their near and dear ones. You just have to think about alcohol consumption at any football (soccer) match to understand the wider ramifications. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage most organs. Alcohol is also linked to greater death rates and higher crime percentage compared to other drugs.
What is the Solution?
Still, experts say a ban on alcohol would be incorrect and impractical. Prohibition seems far-fetched as alcohol has become embedded in western culture. Governments can start by targeting heavy drinkers, not those who take a tipple or two, now and then. Education programs are one answer. Raising alcohol prices could ensure it is not as easily available.
Legal Substances are More Deadly
The study also raises questions about how governments should go about classifying drugs. Last year, the British government imposed stricter penalties for marijuana possession. A senior adviser was fired when he criticized this decision. Thus, it seems government decisions to ban drugs are not based on science alone. Tobacco and alcohol gain a lot of taxation and revenue, so they are less likely to be regulated or outlawed. But, as the above study indicates legal drugs can cause more damage than illicit drugs.