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Old 11-01-2010, 12:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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lancet study: alcohol more destructive than heroin, crack etc...

Quote:
Alcohol More Lethal Than Heroin Or Cocaine, Study Finds

MARIA CHENG | 10/31/10 08:08 PM | AP

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 methamphetamine, 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.
Alcohol More Lethal Than Heroin Or Cocaine, Study Finds


here's a link to the full text of the study itself. it's free but you have to sign up.

Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis : The Lancet

this is interesting.
i like a fine beverage or 3 but find like alot of people that i have to be careful about it because if i am not careful a fine beverage or 3 has a tendency to creep it's way into something that's quite alot bigger than just the occasional beverage or 3. i've never had that kind of creep with other drugs that i indulged in the past.

but i've seen an awful lot of real destruction that is rooted, one way or another, in alcohol and/or its abuse.

so first thing is that the results of this study didn't exactly surprise me. but it's also obvious that they are a bit counterintuitive if you evaluate drugs by their social reputation anyway.

did the results surprise you?
why or why not?

one of the conclusions of the report is that there should be a re-evaluation of drug policies, including which are legal and which are not and what the penalties are. for example, as the huntingon post blurb says, if this sort of data was at the origin of criminalization moves, it'd be hard to imagine that marijuana wouldn't be legal but alcohol would be.

do you agree with this assessment?
do you agree that there should be a reassessment of criminal law around drugs?
what would you change?
what would you not change?

more broadly, where does the information you use to think about this sort of question come from?
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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out of sheer volume of people that drink alcohol, i agree that yes, it probably does cause the most social damage, but think of the social benefits too. how many connections have been established over drinks. romances? business deals? books? works of art? friendships?

i would be more impressed with this study if it did a side by side comparison of benefits vs costs of using these substances.
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Pretty simple really, do your own thing as long as it does not fuck with anyone's enjoyment of life.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm not a statistician and don't have access to a lot of data, but the conclusion seems to make sense.

Regarding the proper response, I believe in prevention, education, and treatment more than I do punishment in cases of substance abuse, even when that substance is alcohol. While obviously those who commit other crimes when intoxicated should be brought to justice, sitting in a cell for a few years does not cure a person of addiction. If an individual needs help, treatment should be available and not just AA.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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i agree with you Willravel, but i dont like how the article points a giant damning finger at alcohol when there are many benefits from responsible use of alcohol as opposed to several, but not all, of the other drugs mentioned.
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Pretty simple really, do your own thing as long as it does not fuck with anyone's enjoyment of life.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Well I've been saying this for years but other then using my own life (and those I know) as a study it never really seemed like it could be true, it must just be a perception thing. When compared with other drugs (pot especially) it seems the toll alcohol takes on my body after a night of heavy drinking is much worse, again I always assumed that was just perception. It does however seems bizarre to me that alcohol remains not only legal but perfectly acceptable while the use of other recreational drugs...many of which according the to the study are safer...are met with gasps and dismay often from somebody hauling on a cigarette and downing a glass of gin.

Now I certainly wouldn't argue for prohibition (God help the man that tries to pry the alcohol from my trembling, dehydrated fingers) but study after study seems to be leading us in the direction that our societies stance on drugs may need to be reevaluated just a bit. It seems a tad hypocritical and maybe a little stupid for something like alcohol to be celebrated while something like pot is scorned.

Other hardcore drugs...I'm not sure how I feel about those. While I feel like everybody has a right to do what they want with their own body, I'm not sure how I feel about crystal meth being sold at the corner liquor store...jury's still out on that one.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:22 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
do you agree with this assessment?
yes, I do.
I don't find the results to be either novel or surprising.

Quote:
do you agree that there should be a reassessment of criminal law around drugs?
yes, but I didn't need this study to come to that conclusion

what would you change?
Quote:
I would legalize marijuana

Quote:
what would you not change?
I would neither outlaw alcohol nor legalize more dangerous drugs. I don't see any particular need to legalize LSD or ecstasy (but that said, penalties for use should be realistic - don't have time to expand on that right now). I would support heavier taxation of alcohol, particularly if the money were used to promote responsible use and assist abusers.

Quote:
more broadly, where does the information you use to think about this sort of question come from?
I have used a lot of different drugs and have known people who used both responsibly and not so much. My family has had a lot of alcoholics (and drug abusers). I probably drink too much but for some reason do not drift into alcoholism, but I believe my genes understand it. I understand what alcohol does to the body. So I guess you could say it is mostly experience-based.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I disagree because it's apples and oranges.

Quote:
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.
BECAUSE IT'S LEEEEEGAAAAAAAAL. Derp!

Make all of that stuff legal and you'd probably see a true pattern emerge.

Basically it comes down to personal responsibility. People can claim xyz made them do zyx under the "experience" column but as far as sheer medical data, I'm sure as fuck that a standard daily intake of heroin/crack whatever is far more destructive than a daily intake of alcohol.

Again I'm just of the thought that it comes down to people knowing their own capabilities.

Quote:
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.
Because if you're excessively drunk, you might have liver problems, but you're feeling good, daring, bold, stupid, willing to jump a fence to impress a pretty girl, whatever. If you're excessively dosed on heroin, you're either comatose or dead, so youre note really going to commit crime under those effects.

Last edited by Shauk; 11-02-2010 at 04:32 AM..
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
do you agree with this assessment?
do you agree that there should be a reassessment of criminal law around drugs?
what would you change?
what would you not change?
Laws against victimless crimes seem like legislated morality to me. I'd legalize pot and tax the piss out of it. I'd consider it the same as alcohol. I'd decriminalize anything else. We have actual murderers and rapists running around, my tax dollars are better spent chasing them than someone that prefers to sit around in a heroin haze.

Quote:
more broadly, where does the information you use to think about this sort of question come from?
I've done extensive "hands on research" on the subject.
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