Alcohol Most Damaging Drug

Have you felt comfortable about your decision to “just drink alcohol” instead of using illicit drugs? You may also want to give up drinking as well. Researchers in the UK met as part of an independent scientific committee on drugs and ranked the danger of using various substances.

Their conclusions may surprise you. They ranked twenty different drugs (including alcohol, a drug) in terms of harm to the individual and harm to society in general. The analysis was weighted to the effects on the individual in 9 of the 16 categories and for societal effects in the other seven categories.

Alcohol tallied to be most damaging of all drugs examined with Heroin and Amphetamines as runners up. The full article may be read here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)61462-6/fulltext

This conclusion is based on a survey of impartial experts and is not the same as a prospective study. It does reflect changing attitudes toward alcohol among scientists and the public in general. It was not long ago that alcohol use was not even considered drug use by most people. Public awareness of the dangers of alcohol and increasing penalties  for driving under the influence have been responsible for the shift in perception.

Most people who drink alcohol do not do so in a damaging way. However, at least 15% of Americans currently have an abuse/dependence relationship with alcohol. I cringe when I see the footnote on alcohol ads that says, “drink responsibly.” The essence of drinking alcohol or taking any other mind-altering drug is to avoid responsibility. Drink and Responsible don’t go together. Wouldn’t you agree?

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Category: Current Events

About the Author: Dr. Jason Giles is certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine and the American Board of Anesthesiology. He is a physician specializing in the treatment of drug, alcohol, and behavioral addictions. He is the founder of Haywire.


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