Drug Law

Study: Alcohol More Harmful than Heroin, Crack

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A sobering study out of Britain that claims alcohol is "more harmful" than any drug, including heroin and crack.

The report published in the British medical journal The Lancet rated 20 drugs on 16 criteria -- nine related to the harms that a particular drug does to an individual and seven to the harms a drug does to society on the whole.

Out of a score of 100, alcohol came in the highest at 72 points. Heroin placed second with 55 points, and crack took third place with 54 points. Those three were judged to be the most harmful to society, while heroin, crack and methamphetamine were the most harmful to individual users.

Marijuana, LSD and ecstasy were the least harmful. Tobacco and cocaine were found to be equally as harmful.

The report was was co-authored by Professor David Nutt, Britain's former chief drug policy advisor. He was fired amid controversy last year when officials refused to take his advice about downgrading the classification of such drugs as marijuana and ecstasy. Nutt said they were not as dangerous as other drugs.

He said his report confirms those claims. Nutt said the findings showed that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy."