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Study finds alcohol more toxic than heroin, cocaine and many other drugs

October 23 | By Rachael

Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances across the world. Whether for recreational use, in a party or for overcoming boredom, alcohol is an acclaimed guest of every celebration. Most people, despite the short- and long-term consequences of alcohol, do not mind indulging in drinking every now and then. Drinking alcohol, either by choice or under any compulsion, can have various repercussions.

It has also become quite a prevalent practice to abuse alcohol along with other drugs, such as crystal meth. Lately, crystal meth has become immensely popular among users due to low cost and intense euphoric effects. Moreover, it contains numerous harmful ingredients. While alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meth has numerous stimulant properties. As a result, the consumption of meth along with alcohol increases risk by manifold.

Considering the repercussions of both meth and alcohol on being mixed, it often becomes difficult to rate which substance is more harmful than the other. As such, both alcohol and meth can have detrimental long-term effects on users, such as impairment of cognitive-behavioral skills, risky sexual behavior, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

In order to identify the more dangerous substance between both alcohol and meth, a study was conducted under the supervision of the lead researcher David Nutt of Imperial College London and published in the journal The Lancet tried to rate different substances.

Alcohol versus other drugs

The lead researcher and his colleagues rated 20 different drugs based on the level of harms caused by these drugs. However, the drugs were rated based on nine harms inflicted on an individual and seven harms caused to the society. Overall, alcohol scored 72, against 55 for heroin and 54 for crack.

The scale, developed by a panel of experts called the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ICSD), ranges from 0 (no harm) to 100 (greatest possible harm). Moreover, a drug scoring 50 was seen as half as harmful as a drug that scores 100. During the calculation, Nutt and colleagues found that alcohol possesses a significant score of 72, much higher than meth or heroin. This is probably because alcohol is linked to more than 60 diseases. The ICSD scores corroborates the widely accepted view that alcohol is an extremely harmful substance for both users and society.

In terms of overall harm, drugs as per the score incle crystal meth (33), cocaine (27), tobacco (26), amphetamine/speed (23), cannabis (20), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) (18), benzodiazepines (15), ketamine (15), methadone (13), butane (10), khat (9), ecstasy (9), anabolic steroids (9), Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) (7), buprenorphine (6) and magic mushrooms (5).

Since alcohol is three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco, the lead author emphasized that more efforts need to be made for reducing the harms caused by alcohol. Apart from harming the user, he also pointed out the other substantial damages are caused by legal substances like alcohol. He specified the increased economic costs borne by the society and nation due to such addictions and broken families suffering from alcoholism.

Get rid of addiction

The chronic alcohol use is associated with severe physical and mental health issues like depression, kidney issues, heart problems, lack of concentration, etc. Alcohol is known to alter the pathways of the brain and depress the CNS, thereby affecting a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions. The high concentration of alcohol can impair the brain’s function, as well as impair judgment, coordination and concentration.

Alcohol abuse has become a global phenomenon. According to the latest statistics, approximately 136.7 million Americans in the age group 12 and above are the current users of alcohol, as well as 65.3 million admitted of binge drinking and 16.3 reported of heaving drinking in the past month. Alcohol is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Persistent and heavy drinking is also linked with a lower serotonin level in the brain that increases the risk of depression and psychosis.

If you or your loved one is fighting alcohol addiction, contact the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help for guidance on the best facilities offering alcohol treatment in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-592-9261 or chat online with our counselors to know about some of the finest alcohol addiction treatment centers in Colorado.