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Drug Experts Say Alcohol Worse Than Crack Or Heroin

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Drug experts say alcohol worse than crack or heroin

November 1, 2010 - 8:00am EDT
By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - Alcohol is a more dangerous drug than both crack and heroin when the combined harms to the user and to others are assessed, British scientists said Monday.

Presenting a new scale of drug harm that rates the damage to users themselves and to wider society, the scientists rated alcohol the most harmful overall and almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco.

According to the scale, devised by a group of scientists including Britain's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) and an expert adviser to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), heroin and crack cocaine rank as the second and third most harmful drugs.
Ecstasy is only an eighth as harmful as alcohol, according to the scientists' analysis.

Professor David Nutt, chairman of the ISCD, whose work was published in the Lancet medical journal, said the findings showed that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy."
He said they also showed that current drug classification systems had little relation to the evidence of harm.

Alcohol and tobacco are legal for adults in Britain and many other countries, while drugs such as ecstasy and cannabis and LSD are often illegal and carry the threat of prison sentences.

"It is intriguing to note that the two legal drugs assessed -- alcohol and tobacco -- score in the upper segment of the ranking scale, indicating that legal drugs cause at least as much harm as do illegal substances," Nutt, who was formerly head of the influential British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), said in a statement about the study.

Nutt was forced to quit the ACMD a year ago after publicly criticizing ministers for ignoring scientific advice suggesting cannabis was less harmful than alcohol.

The World Health Organization estimates that risks linked to alcohol cause 2.5 million deaths a year from heart and liver disease, road accidents, suicides and cancer -- accounting for 3.8 percent of all deaths. It is the third leading risk factor for premature death and disabilities worldwide.

In an effort to offer a guide to policy makers in health, policing, and social care, Nutt's team rated drugs using a technique called multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) which assessed damage according to nine criteria on harm to the user and seven criteria on harm to others.

Harms to the user included things such as drug-specific or drug-related death, damage to health, drug dependence and loss of relationships, while harms to others included crime, environmental damage, family conflict, international damage, economic cost, and damage to community cohesion.
Drugs were then scored out of 100, with 100 given to the most harmful drug and zero indicating no harm at all.

The scientists found alcohol was most harmful, with a score of 72, followed by heroin with 55 and crack with 54.

Among some of the other drugs assessed were crystal meth (33), cocaine (27), tobacco (26), amphetamine or speed (23), cannabis (20), benzodiazepines, such as Valium (15), ketamine (15), methadone (14), mephedrone (13), ecstasy (9), anabolic steroids (9), LSD (7) and magic mushrooms (5).



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
What contributes to this madness is that alcohol is used more widely, is more affordable, possession does not in and of itself lead to arrest and conviction, and society approves of its use in more ways than one. That means there are so many more opportunities for its damage to be felt, and that many more people whose lives are ruined by it, and not the drinkers alone. Highway deaths, physical abuse and emotional abuse in families, childhood ruined by alcoholic parent/s, economic chaos because of drinking, the list is incredibly long, society winks and nods. And here we have the British government shooting the messenger Dr. Nutt. So how likely is it that other governments around the world are unwilling to wake up and smell the coffee?


ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
Dec 21, 2010
Just on a personal basis I drink but never drink alone but may be once or twice a month with friends. I also don't think or believe it is necessary to have social fun.

If I visit someone I am happy if they offer a drink or not but I am unhappy when people try to get you drunk. I hate hangovers.

It is said that even food can be poison if not handled well. There is no shortage of veggie/abstainer obese to be matched with non-abstainer or non-veggie obese where Obesity has been classified is one of the biggest unrecognized diseases of our times. Doctors don't say much about it because it makes the patients uncomfortable and it is very time consuming to fix related to lifestyle.

Sat Sri Akal.
Here is a USA source well reputed and a very well recognized institution's view with specifics and I believe very well written. :interestedkudi:

Alcohol use is a slippery slope. Moderate drinking can offer some health benefits. But it's easy to drink too heavily, leading to serious health consequences.

By Mayo Clinic staff
It sounds like a mixed message: Drinking alcohol may offer some health benefits, especially for your heart. On the other hand, alcohol may increase your risk of health problems and damage your heart.
So which is it? When it comes to drinking alcohol, the key is moderation and low-risk drinking. Certainly, you don't have to drink any alcohol, and if you currently don't drink, it's unlikely your doctor would suggest that you start drinking for the possible health benefit. In some cases, it's safest to avoid alcohol entirely — the possible benefits don't outweigh the risks.
If you do drink alcohol, drink only lightly or in moderation to reduce risks and maximize any health benefits. Here's a closer look at the connection between alcohol and your health.
Health benefits of moderate alcohol use

Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits. It may:

  • Reduce your risk of developing heart disease
  • Reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack
  • Possibly reduce your risk of strokes, particularly ischemic strokes
  • Lower your risk of gallstones
  • Possibly reduce your risk of diabetes
Even so, the evidence about the possible health benefits of alcohol isn't certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks.
Moderate alcohol use may be of most benefit only if you're an older adult or if you have existing risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol. If you're a middle-aged or younger adult, some evidence shows that even moderate alcohol use may cause more harm than good. In fact, if you're a woman and drink alcohol, talk to your doctor about taking supplemental folate to help reduce the risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol use. You can take other steps to benefit your cardiovascular health besides drinking — eating a healthy diet and exercising, for example.
Guidelines for moderate alcohol use

What counts as a healthy "dose" of alcohol that may be good for you hasn't been determined. But under U.S. health guidelines, moderate drinking is defined as:

  • Healthy men 66 and older: a maximum of three drinks per occasion, or seven drinks a week
  • Healthy men 65 and younger: a maximum of four drinks per occasion, or 14 drinks a week
  • Healthy women: a maximum of three drinks per occasion, or seven drinks a week
Examples of one drink include:

  • Beer: 12 ounces (355 milliliters)
  • Wine: 5 ounces (148 milliliters)
  • 80-proof distilled spirits: 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters)

Alcohol use: If you drink, keep it moderate

When to avoid alcohol use

Keep in mind that moderate use of alcohol doesn't mean that using alcohol is risk-free. For example, if you drink too much alcohol on one occasion — say you binge drink a week's worth of alcohol in one or two days — you face serious health problems. Likewise if you drink and drive.
Here are other situations in which the risks of alcohol use may outweigh possible health benefits:

  • You're pregnant or trying to become pregnant
  • You've had a previous hemorrhagic stroke
  • You've been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol abuse
  • You have liver disease
  • You have pancreatic disease
  • You have heart failure or you've been told you have a weak heart or dilated cardiomyopathy
  • You're planning to drive a vehicle or operate machinery
  • You're under age 21
Some situations are less clear cut. Use alcohol only with great care and after consulting your doctor if:

  • You have a family history of alcoholism
  • You take prescription medications for a health problem
  • You use over-the-counter pain relievers or fever reducers
  • You have a family history of breast cancer
  • You have precancerous changes in your esophagus, larynx, pharynx or mouth
Consequences of heavy alcohol use

Although moderate alcohol use may offer some health benefits, heavy drinking, binge drinking and other dangerous drinking can cause potentially serious health problems, including:

  • Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus and liver
  • Pancreatitis
  • Sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease
  • Heart muscle damage (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) leading to heart failure
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Suicide
  • Accidental serious injury or death
  • Miscarriage
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome and other health problems in an unborn child
Drink alcohol only in moderation — or not at all

The bottom line is this: Don't feel pressured to drink alcohol. And if you don't drink alcohol now, check with your doctor first if you want to have an occasional drink to reap possible health benefits. Few medical experts, if any, advise nondrinkers to start drinking. But if you do drink alcohol and you're healthy, there's probably no need to stop as long as you drink responsibly and in moderation.


Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
Ambarsaria ji,
On this point I am afraid we differ. A lot of the research around alcohol (on both sides) is severely flawed when it comes to health benefits so research actually doesn't show ANY health benefits of alcohol at all and doctors would NEVER encourage a teetotaller to drink for health. The media loves the positive headlines which is why it has become such a popular myth. Here are some articles to explain further




Comparing food to alcohol is also not a like for like comparison. Food is necessary for survival, alcohol is not. The function of alcohol is for pleasure and social life only, the mind altering effect it has is well established and a huge amount greater than any food. The number of foods that can cause harm (in absence of disease) in small amounts is very tiny (such as cassava incorrectly cooked) but all types of alcohol can cause harm in small amounts. There are times when you are affected out of proportion, eg when tires or stressed, and this is not always predictable so therefore I do not believe moderation is possible. Alcohol is addictive, food is not. Many countries won't allow driving after ANY alcohol which proves the science shows that even 'moderate' drinking is mind altering.

The reason why alcohol is such a destructive force is because it is legal, socially acceptable and more than that in many societies encouraged. By endorsing drinking, we are adding to those statistics. Spnadmin ji has already listed the social evils associated with drinking. It really is a slippery slope for many!

All this may be classed as my opinion so I think it's also important to look at what gurbani says as that should be the guiding force for each and every Sikh. Gurbani is very clear on not allowing intoxicants, including alcohol. This video explains in more detail.

YouTube - Sikhism On Alcohol

Page 554
ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ ੩ ॥

ਮਾਣਸੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਣਿਆ ਮਾਣਸੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਇ ॥ maanas bhariaa aaniaa maanas bhariaa aae ||
One person brings a full bottle, and another fills his cup.

ਜਿਤੁ ਪੀਤੈ ਮਤਿ ਦੂਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਬਰਲੁ ਪਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਇ ॥ jith peethai math dhoor hoe baral pavai vich aae ||
Drinking the wine, his intelligence departs, and madness enters his mind;

ਆਪਣਾ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਈ ਖਸਮਹੁ ਧਕੇ ਖਾਇ ॥ aapanaa paraaeiaa n pashhaanee khasamahu dhhakae khaae ||
he cannot distinguish between his own and others, and he is struck down by his Lord and Master.

ਜਿਤੁ ਪੀਤੈ ਖਸਮੁ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਦਰਗਹ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥ jith peethai khasam visarai dharageh milai sajaae ||
Drinking it, he forgets his Lord and Master, and he is punished in the Court of the Lord.

ਝੂਠਾ ਮਦੁ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਪੀਚਈ ਜੇ ਕਾ ਪਾਰਿ ਵਸਾਇ ॥ jhoothaa madh mool n peechee jae kaa paar vasaae ||
Do not drink the false wine at all, if it is in your power.

ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਸਚੁ ਮਦੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਜਿਸੁ ਆਇ ॥ naanak nadharee sach madh paaeeai sathigur milai jis aae ||
O Nanak, the True Guru comes and meets the mortal; by His Grace, one obtains the True Wine.

ਸਦਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਹੈ ਮਹਲੀ ਪਾਵੈ ਥਾਉ ॥੧॥ sadhaa saahib kai rang rehai mehalee paavai thhaao ||1||
He shall dwell forever in the Love of the Lord Master, and obtain a seat in the Mansion of His Presence. ||1||

Kind regards,


ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
Dec 21, 2010
Findingmyway ji I have no issue if we differ. I am not a supporter of drinking as I like perhaps many have seen lives and families ruined by it.

I only referred to the article as it appeared pretty balanced and is from a very pre-eminent instituion in the USA and actually some of the lines in your post are in consonance with the article in my post.

I highlighted from my post last paragraph below:

The bottom line is this:

  • Don't feel pressured to drink alcohol.
  • And if you don't drink alcohol now, check with your doctor first if you want to have an occasional drink to reap "possible" health benefits.
  • Few medical experts, if any, advise nondrinkers to start drinking.
  • But if you do drink alcohol and you're healthy, there's probably no need to stop as long as you drink responsibly and in moderation.
I believe it is only the last bullet above which is in contradiction to your line of thought and post.

Appreciate your post and comments these are always welcome even if in opposition to anything I express.

Sat Sri Akal.
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