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Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    LONDON — Alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, according to a new study.

    British experts evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole.

    Researchers analyzed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.

    Heroin, crack cocaine and metamfetamines, or crystal meth, were the most lethal to individuals. When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the deadliest. But overall, alcohol outranked all other substances, followed by heroin and crack cocaine. Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored far lower.

    The study was paid for by Britain's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and was published online Monday in the medical journal, Lancet.

    Experts said alcohol scored so high because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them.

    "Just think about what happens (with alcohol) at every football game," said Wim van den Brink, a professor of psychiatry and addiction at the University of Amsterdam. He was not linked to the study and co-authored a commentary in the Lancet.

    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.

    But experts said it would be impractical and incorrect to outlaw alcohol.

    "We cannot return to the days of prohibition," said Leslie King, an adviser to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and one of the study's authors. "Alcohol is too embedded in our culture and it won't go away."

    King said countries should target problem drinkers, not the vast majority of people who indulge in a drink or two. He said governments should consider more education programs and raising the price of alcohol so it isn't as widely available.

    Experts said the study should prompt countries to reconsider how they classify drugs. For example, last year in Britain, the government increased its penalties for the possession of marijuana. One of its senior advisers, David Nutt — the lead author on the Lancet study — was fired after he criticized the British decision.

    "What governments decide is illegal is not always based on science," said van den Brink. He said considerations about revenue and taxation, like those garnered from the alcohol and tobacco industries, may influence decisions about which substances to regulate or outlaw.

    "Drugs that are legal cause at least as much damage, if not more, than drugs that are illicit," he said.

    By Maria Cheng (CP)
    October 31, 2010



  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt publishes investigation in Lancet reopening debate on classification

    Alcohol is the most dangerous drug in the UK by a considerable margin, beating heroin and crack cocaine into second and third place, according to an authoritative study published today which will reopen calls for the drugs classification system to be scrapped and a concerted campaign launched against drink.

    Led by the sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt with colleagues from the breakaway Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, the study says that if drugs were classified on the basis of the harm they do, alcohol would be class A, alongside heroin and crack cocaine.

    Today's paper, published by the respected Lancet medical journal, will be seen as a challenge to the government to take on the fraught issue of the relative harms of legal and illegal drugs, which proved politically damaging to Labour.

    Nutt was sacked last year by the home secretary at the time, Alan Johnson, for challenging ministers' refusal to take the advice of the official Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which he chaired. The committee wanted cannabis to remain a class C drug and for ecstasy to be downgraded from class A, arguing that these were less harmful than other drugs. Nutt claimed scientific evidence was overruled for political reasons.

    The new paper updates a study carried out by Nutt and others in 2007, which was also published by the Lancet and triggered debate for suggesting that legally available alcohol and tobacco were more dangerous than cannabis and LSD.

    Alcohol, in that paper, ranked fifth most dangerous overall. The 2007 paper also called for an overhaul of the drug classification system, but critics disputed the criteria used to rank the drugs and the absence of differential weighting.

    Today's study offers a more complex analysis that seeks to address the 2007 criticisms. It examines nine categories of harm that drugs can do to the individual "from death to damage to mental functioning and loss of relationships" and seven types of harm to others. The maximum possible harm score was 100 and the minimum zero.

    Overall, alcohol scored 72 – against 55 for heroin and 54 for crack. The most dangerous drugs to their individual users were ranked as heroin, crack and then crystal meth. The most harmful to others were alcohol, heroin and crack in that order.

    Nutt told the Guardian the drug classification system needed radical change. "The Misuse of Drugs Act is past its sell-by date and needs to be redone," he said. "We need to rethink how we deal with drugs in the light of these new findings."

    For overall harm, the other drugs examined ranked as follows: crystal meth (33), cocaine (27), tobacco (26), amphetamine/speed (23), cannabis (20), GHB (18), benzodiazepines (15), ketamine (15), methadone (13), butane (10), qat (9), ecstasy (9), anabolic steroids (9), LSD (7), buprenorphine (6) and magic mushrooms (5).

    The authors write: "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. They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports that aggressively targeting alcohol harm is a valid and necessary public health strategy."

    Nutt told the Lancet a new classification system "would depend on what set of harms 'to self or others' you are trying to reduce". He added: "But if you take overall harm, then alcohol, heroin and crack are clearly more harmful than all others, so perhaps drugs with a score of 40 or more could be class A; 39 to 20 class B; 19-10 class C and 10 or under class D." This would result in tobacco being labelled a class B drug alongside cocaine. Cannabis would also just make class B, rather than class C. Ecstasy and LSD would end up in the lowest drug category, D.

    He was not suggesting classification was unnecessary: "We do need a classification system – we do need to regulate the ones that are very harmful to individuals like heroin and crack cocaine." But he thought the UK could learn from the Portuguese and Dutch: "They have innovative policies which could reduce criminalisation." Representatives of both countries will be at a summit in London today, called drug science and drug policy: building a consensus, where the study will be presented.

    UK reformers will be hoping the coalition government will take a more evidence-based approach to classification and tackling drugs than Labour did. The Liberal Democrats supported Nutt over his sacking, while Conservative leader David Cameron, who got into trouble at Eton, aged 15, for smoking cannabis, acknowledged the Misuse of Drugs Act was not working during his time as an MP on the Home Affairs select committee.

    Nutt called for far more effort to be put into reducing harm caused by alcohol, pointing out that its economic costs, as well as the costs to society of addiction and broken families, are very high. Taxation on alcohol is "completely inappropriate", he said – with strong cider, for instance, taxed at a fifth of the rate of wine – and action should particularly target the low cost and promotion of alcohol such as Bacardi breezers to young people.

    Don Shenker, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said : "What this study and new classification shows is that successive governments have mistakenly focused attention on illicit drugs, whereas the pervading harms from alcohol should have given a far higher priority. Drug misusers are still ten times more likely to receive support for their addiction than alcohol misusers, costing the taxpayer billions in repeat hospital admissions and alcohol related crime. Alcohol misuse has been exacerbated in recent years as government failed to accept the link between cheap prices, higher consumption and resultant harms to individuals and society."

    "[The] government should now urgently ensure alcohol is made less affordable and invest in prevention and treatment services to deal with the rise in alcohol dependency that has occurred."

    The Home Office said last night: "We have not read the report. This government has just completed an alcohol consultation and will publish a drugs strategy in the coming months."

    A Department of Health spokesperson said: "In England, most people drink once a week or less. If you're a women and stick to two to three units a day or a man and drink up to three or four units, you are unlikely to damage your health. The government is determined to prevent alcohol abuse without disadvantaging those who drink sensibly."Two experts from the Amsterdam National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research point out in a Lancet commentary the study does not look at multiple drug use, which can make some drugs much more dangerous – such as cocaine or cannabis together with alcohol – but they acknowledge the topic was outside its scope.

    They add that because the pattern of recreational drug use changes, the study should be repeated every five or 10 years.

    Sarah Boseley, Health editor
    The Guardian, Monday 1 November 2010

  2. mickey_bee
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    I really like Professor Nutt, unlike so many others he stuck to his guns, and even after his sacking continued to push for what is true and what is right. Thankfully he's been able to achieve the goal of showing the world these facts.

    Great man.
  3. Finn Mac Cool
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Alcohol 'more harmful than heroin' says Prof David Nutt

    Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack, according to a study published in medical journal the Lancet. [IMGR="red"]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=17594&stc=1&d=1288608616[/IMGR]

    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.

    Harm score

    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 modelling 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.

    Because alcohol is so widely used there are hundreds of thousands of people who crave alcohol every day” Prof David Nutt Former UK chief drugs adviser

    "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."

    1 November 2010


    In rehab they give a long list of physical damages that alcohol causes but only mention the heart when it comes to heroin.
  4. missparkles
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    I have to disagree. I know a lot of people (100s) who can use alcohol socially. I don't know anyone who can use heroin the same way. People go out maybe once or twice a week, have a few drinks with friends, end of. People take heroin a couple of times a week and it's not long before they're thinking about it when they're NOT using. Plus the behaviour that goes with social drinking is nothing like the consequences of heroin use.

    I do believe both have the potential to be as dangerous and injurous to health, but I just can't see alcohol in the same light as heroin, no way, no how. I do think if I'd known about this study when Sparkles was using heroin it wold have made her feel a lot better about her own addiction, and given her another justification to use. She didn't need excuses, she already had enough of them, to be honest.

  5. mickey_bee
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Sparkles, I'd agree with you entirely if we were looking at the harms associated to the individual only.

    When it comes to the harm to society, alcohol is definetly ahead of heroin. Think of the fights, the paramedic call outs the police call outs every weekend (and weeknight). Think of the Domestic violence, almost all of it directly associated with alcohol.
    Swim's father was an alcoholic and my God he did more damage than any smackhead swim's ever known.

    It should also be remembered that in this study heroin isn't miles behind alcohol, it's a close second. But alcohol is without doubt the biggest cost to society of any drug, through it's effects on the individual, it's effects on families, it's costs to the police and ambulance services, and it's costs in hospital healthcare.
  6. missparkles
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Again, I don't see the damage to society with alcohol that you get with heroin. I don't know that many alcoholics who rob, cheat and steal to maintain their addiction to alcohol. Most go onto cheap cider and sherry when they can't afford their drink of choice.

    Heroin use also goes along with a kinda lifestyle (for a lot of addicts) whereas there isn't a specific lifestyle for an alcoholic. I don't think alcohol chic has the same ring to it as heroin chic. I never hear an alcoholic sharing with mates a romanticised view of their addiction either.

    You don't hear alcoholics dreamily talk about last nights blackout, or the last really good vomit they had, like you do with heroin and the rush, or that nod they had, can you see where I'm going?

    I believe they're as different as chalk and cheese. Although I do admit that alcoholism is seen with less social stigma than heroin addiction. (I use heroin as just one example of drug addiction, as opposed to muddying the water by mentioning every addictive drug).

  7. salviablue
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    But there are alcoholics that do lie cheat and steal to get that fix, and drunk people are much more likely to start fights, be violent, break things cause general noise and public disorder.

    Also, I imagine there to be a lot more blackmarket street crime from heroin than from alcohol, how ever I think that is down to legal status and price. There is more blackmarket crime involving alcohol these days, than there used to be, but I think it is massively related to the increasing cost and reduced availability.

    I would have to see the ins and outs to just how they came up with these figures, for a start, how can LSD rank more harmful than mushrooms, or cannabis more harmful than ecstasy?

    How a drug has been infused into a society I think should have no bearing at all on the issue. If it was traditional to feed babies mercury on their first birthday, and it was a big part of our culture etc., would we argue a case for it to continue, stating that's its 'unfair and incorrect' to them out law it?
    The legal status and cultural perception of a substance has absolutely nothing to do its harms to the individual or society, but more with policy, power, money and religion.

    Alcohol allowed most westerners a better chance of survival, if the water could allow fermentation, it was safe to drink. Weak beer used to be the staple of most babies, is that a tradition we should continue?

    What about no classification system, just education, prove you are educated and informed enough and take your own responsibility.

    If governmemts where truly interested in our welfare and good health, tobacco companies, resale outlets etc. would not be allowed to profit from tobacco products, how long do you think they would still be sold in this country? How about passing a law that states dependence upon an addictive product is the liability of all companies involved in sales wothin that country......there wouldn't many traders left of addictive substances. Thus any consumer becoming addicted to tobacco etc., are the financial burden of the relative companies involved in that substance.
  8. Slipin
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    sorry but after having a good laugh for 5 mins!! just have to say no... totaly disagree.... as a comparison

    say "NUCLEAR WEAPONS" the most powerfull weapons on earth capable of killing a billion ppl in 1 go .... how many ppl have they ever killed in the last 50 years 0!!

    the AK47 has killed millions of people but its legal

    off course alchahol is goin to be the most costly ... its legal!! so their for socialy acceptable ... and people do it thinking thats just how the world works..and to some degree expected !!

    like sparkle says .. have u ever met a heroin user who goes " ohh yeah mite just have a jab tday "and put it back in the draw for a month...

    its a fact that opiates are addictive ...... id say more so than smoking ..... and well look how that turned out !!
  9. mickey_bee
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Swim most certainly does hear alcohol bingers go on and on about how f**ked up they got the other night, in fact in my age group, the entire week is spent talking about either how f**ked up they were last weekend, or how f**ked up they're gonna get this weekend.

    Along with of course the hilarious places they urinated and vomited, the various things they vandalised, and the numerous fights they saw/got involved in.
    Junkies don't do that.

    Yes they are different, but the cost to society afforded by heroin is purely a result of it's illegality and thus very high price. Alcohol is legal and freely available, but costs the government far more when it comes to cleaning up the mess, - because of the effects of the drug itself.

    EDIT - Just to reiterate, swim's not saying heroin isn't an extremely harmful drug to society, especially in it's illegality. He doesn't think it's far behind alcohol in terms of damage to society and individual, as this study shows. Swim's basically just agreeing with this study!

    It doesn't matter if you're an alcoholic or not, many many people binge drink and end up in various situations that cost society, themselves and their families a great deal. Given that it's legal cheap and freely available, this clearly indicates that the drug itself is of great harm to society and the individual. And that's without even mentioning the alcoholics and the trail of domestic violence, healthcare costs, etc they bring with them ASWELL as all the other alcohol related costs.
  10. missparkles
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    I think young people discussing their weekend binges is totally different to an alcohol addict. It's almost a rite of passage nowadays for people under 30 to get fucked up on booze, isn't it? That's a completely different thing.

    40 years ago heroin was legally prescribed, did it stop people ODing...no. Did it prevent them going out and committing crime...no. Did it miraculously change their lives...no.

    People cite alcohol prohibition in the early 1900s, but since prohibition on alcohol ended, have the numbers reduced...no. Have the problems caused by alcohol reduced...no. Are there more people fucked up by alcohol now than before...most definitely. So legalising it doesn't solve the problem does it? It just makes the problem more acceptable socially.

  11. Joe-(5-HTP)
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    The only way to construct a real criticism of this article is to read in detail the statistics and research it draws its conclusions on. Until then, no one can claim the scientists have failed to take whatever their criticism is into account.
  12. missparkles
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    No one is claiming anything, we've just discussed if we agree with the findings, according to our own experience. Nothing more.

  13. catseye
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Agreed. Just in case anyone wants to read the full report, I just uploaded it to the archives

    Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis
  14. corvardus
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    The problem is this listing isn't exactly targeted to the general population who are, on the whole, a bunch of scientifically illiterate and mathematically retarded bunch. This is presumably intended for politicians and specifically the Misuse of Drugs Act who specifically state that custodial sentences should be relevant to the harms the drugs represent.

    As is the scientific process scientists would pore through this paper and rip it to shreds if at all possible. The more robust it is the less credible any ignoring of the evidence will become.

    The debate will likely be held on the weighting of "societal" pressures with 16 different criterias for each drug, which is an achievement in itself, they can't pick out a single issue to defeat the entire lot. Not if you're going to be intellectually honest about it.
  15. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    just a quick comment- this story is seeing a huge amount of press- my "google alerts" are lighting up on this one like I've never seen before. And by and large the reporting is proving pretty good, with some influential editors providing good commentary.

    Oddly enough, both the Daily Mail and The Sun are mostly sticking to the facts (while taking quiet swipes at David Nutts credibility) . Surprisingly they aren't calling on the masses to torch the pubs and liquor stores or demanding the police/politicians to action to save the children. ;)
  16. Joe-(5-HTP)
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Presenting personal experiences in a thread like this at best carry an implication of contesting the validity of this study.. But you can't generalise from personal experiences. Studies like these work by assessing statistical evidence and so on. However tempting it is to think you can generalise based on your own experience, it is still false grounds for disagreement.
  17. Alfa
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Actually more recent experiments show exactly that. That's why this experiment is spreading across Europe. When heroin is available to addicts, they need not commit crimes, beg or do other nuisances to get their fix.

    Just a few years ago, almost all junkies disappeared from the streets of Utrecht, Netherlands. This was quite a contrast, as there were so many that it was a serious issue(crime, safety, atmosphere) in the city center. Especially around the central railway station / mall at night.
    The Dutch government opened houses where everything is available for addicts: clean needles, heroin subscriptions, medical control, etc. From my limited view and from talks with Dutch drug workers, it seems a huge success.

    This line of reasoning is not logical, as it makes various connections, that are not directly related.
    Alcohol use has increased, because it was / is heavily advertised, is available everywhere with close to no control, and also because our demanding production orientated society needs to be balanced with some form of winding down.

    Legalizing anything does not solve anything. There is little control over the use of illegal drugs and there is little control over the use of legal drugs. Legal or illegal: it makes no difference whatsoever in this sense.

    It's only when strong regulation, prevention, information and harm reduction methods are applied, that the use of drugs can be influenced. And this can be done much more effective with legal drugs.

    A good example is the anti-smoking campaigns that seriously reduced the use of tobacco, by making users aware of the risks, by restricting the places where the drug can be used and by changing the consensus. Smoking is not socially accepted anywhere anymore.

    Compare this with the advertising campaigns against illegal drug use. 99% of what is communicated is bullshit. Simply because the issue is politically too hot to really be honest about. So practically almost all honest communication is lost and few take government information on drugs seriously anymore. And thats the end of it. Dead as a doornail.

    This is why legalization combined with regulation and other measures is better.
    This is also why Drugs-Forum exists. We fill the need for unbiased information.
    This is also why scientific evaluations of drugs are necessary and why groups like the ISCD are so important.
  18. enquirewithin
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    What Nutt says makes a lot of sense. He does clearly say that alcohol is more harmful to society than heroin, but heroin and crack are more harmful to the individual. Chronic alcoholics can actually be in far worse health than many heroin addicts. Alcohol in large amounts is more physically damaging than heroin, although overdosing is not as easy.

    As Alfa says, regulation, harm reduction and education are the best ways to tackle problems caused by drugs. This has been backed up by numerous studies, but governments do not want to know. Nutt was fired for telling the truth-- coming to the wrong conclusions, correct or not, is 'political' as far as governments are concerned. The so-called war on drugs is political-- the US controls, or tries to control, the countries supplying the largest amount of the world's heroin and cocaine and even pumps money into their governments.

    I doubt that many people advocate the legalization of all drugs. Even alcohol is regulated, if not very well. Cigarettes are heavily regulated in most countries, and education has reduced smoking a great deal. Tobacco companies are now focusing on the third world to sell their cancerous products.
  19. catseye
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    True, and remember that the US is a major influencing factor at international policy level - not many countries want to "go against the grain" when it comes to opposing what is condoned or condemned by the US gov't. The US is one of the most outspoken UN members against harm reduction methods in general. Also, the biggest competitor for illicit drugs are the legal ones - Big Pharma. Lots of money is invested in the treatment of dependency, not to mention allll the other prescription drugs ingested every minute of every day...
    Legalizing all drugs may be unrealistic, but a shorter term one that could be much easier achieved IMO would be to decriminalize their use - looking at Portugal as a case in point - their system is far from "perfect" but studies now being generated seem to indicate it is a far more successful and progressive approach.
  20. corvardus
    Re: Study: Alcohol is the most lethal drug, outranking heroin, crack cocaine, marijua

    Whilst SWIM was not alive 40 years ago when the Misuse of Drugs Act came out SWIM does have an anecdote from when he did work in a Pharmacy. SWIM helped him dispense Methadone and somehow the discussion went onto about his days in the 60's where Heroin addicts would come into the pharmacy every Friday for their fix. He also commented on the fact that none of them needed to go out and steal to get their fix and that it was a pity. It was the Pharmacists job to follow the rules even if they didn't agree with them.

    So whilst the addiction remained the negative effects of prohibition (prices, quality, etc) are all enhanced when the drug is made illegal.

    Did it stop people ODing? Debatable since the doctors and pharmacists were monitoring their patients when they were obtaining the heroin. The heroin itself was clean and without adulteration and, therefore dosage remained monitorable. This was the day before AIDs and common sense regarding needles but still if they were around today clean sterile needles would be offered as well.

    Did it stop them going out to steal? Debatable since they didn't need to go to a dealer to get it, they obtained from Pharmacy. Cost was reduced, therefore stress to steal is likely reduced.

    The Swiss and Dutch experiments with needle exchanges and prescriptions have been a resounding success in both getting Heroin addicts onto treatment regimes, saving their lives and removing the criminal element from its use. The answer to the question did it change lives? In this instance comparing these treatments to... nothing... SWIM would say so.

    With all due respect Miss Sparkles this isn't accurate. The American "experiment" had alcohol related homicides going up, admissions from "dodgy" moonshine and crime from "bootlegging" and others also went up all of these negative effects are not present in a legal and regulated environment.

    These are the results of prohibition that many of us, today, are citing as a case for legalisation. Alcohol is no different in this respect and the American "experiment" showed us all that prohibition was a huge failure. The 1970's "experiment" that is still under way is, likewise, a complete failure for similar reasons.

    The reason why the ISCD was set up in the first place is to remove "scientific facts" from Fallacies (or Defenses) of Incredulity, whether that comes directly from the public or, indeed, politicians.

    The facts are now out there. 16 separate categories of "harms" have been used. There is only so much one can do to separate drugs from emotive agenda. Only an epidemiological analysis (which require people to die) can enhance this any further.
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