Can't find something? Search Here.

Alcohol Rated as Most Harmful Substance

Posted in Research

Is it possible that alcohol is actually the most harmful drug? A new system used for ranking drugs on the basis of harm caused to the user and others drives alcohol right to the top of the list, according to a recent Science Daily release.

Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London led the drug experts who developed the scale, which places alcohol above heroin and crack in terms of the harm it can cause. As policy makers need guidelines in making health, policing and social care decisions, this scale will provide a clear guideline for tracking potential harms.

In 2007, Professor Nutt and colleagues attempted to assess the harm of different substances and asked experts to score each drug according to nine harm criteria. With this analysis began a major interest and public debate over this approach to measuring the harm associated with different substances.

To overcome these challenges, the researchers used the review process of multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA). This technology approach has been successfully used to address decision making on a number of complex issues. In relation to substances, this process measured harms in terms of physical, physiological and social.

Overall, the MCDA process found that alcohol was the most harmful drug overall and three times more harmful than cocaine or tobacco. Alcohol is also five times more harmful than mephedrone and eight times as harmful as Ecstasy.

The most significant finding from this new scale and supporting research is that the present drug classification system does little to report actual harm associated with specific substances. The authors suggest that ads aggressively targeting the harms of alcohol are valid and necessary as part of a solid public health strategy.