Alcohol, Tobacco More Dangerous than Many Illegal Drugs
> 3/23/2007 2:19:18 PM

A new drug classification system proposed by experts in the UK controversially names alcohol and tobacco as greater public health risks than illegal substances such as ecstasy and marijuana. While traditional culprits cocaine and heroin reign at the top of the revised list of most dangerous drugs, alcohol sits at number five between methadone and the powerful anaesthetic ketamine, and tobacco is just below amphetamine at number nine.

The list's rankings were drawn from individual scores for each substance determined by three major factors: the amount of physical harm brought to each user; the potential for recreational use developing into addiction; the cumulative effects of the drug on local communities and society at large. The report's most controversial elements are the placement of marijuana below tobacco as a public health threat and the presence of ecstasy near the bottom of the list. Despite recent evidence of marijuana's role in intensifying psychosis, particularly among schizophrenics, its low ranking was determined largely by the fact that far more citizens are addicted to tobacco and die of related illnesses. As evidence of the practicality of their findings related to ecstasy, the paper's authors compared the rates of death caused by alcohol to those caused by the popular club drug. Half a million people use ecstasy every weekend in the UK, but only ten per year die due to its use. Alcohol, on the other hand, kills more than 300 each year through poisoning alone, and the number who die progressively via lifelong alcohol consumption or perish in related accidents is far greater.

This report is not in any way a form of advocacy on behalf of drugs legal or illicit, nor does it include proposals for the legalization of any of these substances. Its major point (one that is worth stating repeatedly) is that the habitual use of alcohol and tobacco, legal though they may be, is no safer than that of many street drugs. The fact that they are regulated by law should not lead anyone to mistakenly believe them to be more appropriate for regular use, as legality does not equal approval or free reign for abuse. Those responsible for the report also believe that the public would benefit from a form of drug classification more rational than the overly simplified version currently offered by the government. They believe that the current method downplays the dangers of alcohol and cigarettes in relation to other, more frequently villified substances. This may very well be true. And if the report leads more young people to understand that drinking and smoking are in no way safe or acceptable behaviors, then more research in the same vein is not only justified but necessary.


I am glad you highlighted that though alcohol is not at all prohibited, it is still no better than many illegal drugs. I think if one has already developed alcoholism and is a potential harm to himself, family, and society, he should immediately sign up for an alcohol rehabilitation program. Sadly, there are those who are in a denial stage and trash the idea of a being under a rehab program. Now, this is where the family comes in; they can help him understand the perils of his addiction and persuade him that a treatment will make their lives better.--amanda
Posted by: alcohol rehabilitation program 3/28/2007 8:13:56 AM

I'm not so sure about the tobacco but alcohol is a danger not only for health but also for driving. I also think there is a large amount of alcohol related crimes. There should be a right to chose (I'm not for prohibition) but there have to be some major changes in our perspective about alcohol. There are drug and alcohol rehab centers all around the country which are dealing with a large amount of alcoholics, which is telling me we have to change something in the educational programs too.
Posted by: Delia 7/20/2007 4:17:42 AM

I used to be a Narconon patient for shooting up but they got me clean. Now I smoke almost two packs of cigarettes every day and I can't quit it. Sometimes I'm amazed where did I had the strength to give up cocaine. Why can't I do the same for nicotine?
Posted by: Johanna B. 4/1/2008 5:32:11 AM

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