T Nation

Study Ranks Alcohol as Most Harmful Drug


Link to full study:


Cliff notes:

  • Study ranked drugs using criteria of harm to others and harm to the user.
  • Harm took into account things like societal cost, physical damage, mortality, etc.
  • Alcohol was the most harmful overall (score = 72) and by far most harmful to others.
  • Crack, heroin, and meth were the most harmful to the user. (overall scores = 54, 55, 33 respectively)
  • Cocaine = 27, cannabis = 20, AAS = 10, mushrooms = 6
  • Obviously drug laws take none of this into account and are full of shit.


This image breaks down the contribution from each category for each drug. Hopefully it's visible.


That bar graph makes me thirsty.


Very interesting. Makes me even happier that I'm straight edge.

Nice graph as well.


EDIT: Just noticed that 'Anabolic Steroids' made it onto the graph, made me laugh a little.


They also forgot that alcohol solves as many problems as it creates.


The guy's been extremely vocal over here in england. Was actually a government advisor but was then fired for basically overstepping his role.

Kind of agree with him though (in the descriptive sense). Vast majority of violence, ambulance call-outs etc on a friday or saturday night are mainly thanks to alcohol.

Also, he was talking about relaxing drug categorisation, and asking certain drugs to be downgraded. His argument being that when stuff like heroin is handled by underground drug dealers, it contains a lot of impurities which can really fuck your health up.

Whilst I have no specific/scientific knowledge of what he's saying, what he says sounds ok in principle. However, I don't know what his counter proposal is. And whether heroin being handled by professionals would reduce health risks.

Anyone with some experience in the field (or any of these substances) care to give your opinion on what I've described?


In the words of the great Homer Simpson: "To Beer, the cause and the solution of all of life's problems"


This looks to me like it's talking more about overall impact to society than actual harm of the drug (i.e. it's measuring total impact and not impact per user). Alcohol's wide usage kind of skews the study...although I can't actually find anywhere in there that defines what data they used to create their "harm scores" (or how many people were on the panel making those decisions). Not much info is given on the inputs and data used to derive those conclusions, at least that I can find.

Put it this way: If 1,000 people use drug A and six people die, but five people use drug B and all five of those people die, you could argue drug A is more harmful. IMO that would be a poor argument and I think that's what they're doing here...correct me if there's something I'm missing


I think you might be right. That's a pretty huge, gaping hole in the study. I also don't understand how they would take into account deaths from various substances, when a lot of the time it's a combination of things that leads to problems.


I haven't read the study and as it's 2 in the morning I'm not likely to at the moment, but it seems more likely to me that they get some data on overall hospitalizations in which Drug X is a factor, as well as data on fiscal damage, crimes committed (I needed to rob that lady to buy some crack) and so on, then collate it.

This is especially likely for the 'social damage' aspect - think drunk and disorderly, drink driving, alcohol fueled fights, etc. These figures could then be compared against the numbers of people overall who use the drugs, potentially mitigating (at least partly) the over-representation of alcohol use in the population. Though, I'm not a statistician.

It would be a completely meaningless study if it was the example cited above. However, I do think it's largely known that alcohol destroys lives in much the same way as a bunch of other drugs, destroys health, and leads to notoriously bad decision making which can have dramatic flow on consequences.


I hope this will lead to more sensible tax on cider and alcoholic beverages aimed at teenagers, and a rethink of the licensing laws (24 hour drinking brought in by Labour has been an abject failure). Of course, I know there's little to no chance of that happening, because it would require intelligent politicians with some guts to implement it.

Unfortunately drug laws in the UK are more about appearing to be hard-line and appeasing the media. The frenzy over relatively safe drugs like ecstasy is a good example. I'm glad we haven't had any hysteria over steroids yet, except for the Raul Moat drama.


You were close Pootie, but I take my Simpsons seriously.


Especially, steroids.


You have to understand is that alcohol has been a religious sacrament for 2000 years, and a big chunk of the population would throw a bitch fit if they got rid of it. However, I think instead of making alcohol illegal (like some narcotic enthusiasts suggest for some reason) we legalize and decriminalize the other drugs.


Who wants a cup of Caribou Lou (1 Part Malibu, 2 Parts 151, 5 Parts Pineapple Juice)?


I'll stick with a Cubra Libre made with Kraken.


Could we step it up people? Let's work to get creatine on the list. I've been taking so much lately, whenever I walk my kidneys drag 3 feet behind me.


I agree with you 100%. I am definitely NOT arguing for the return of prohibition, just saying that the argument that "this is dangerous, the government will protect you from it" is hypocritical bullshit. There are two legal substances ahead of several scheduled ones on that list.


...so we should all do shroom? Gotcha!


shrooms and acid, seeing that they are ranked that low makes me feel much better after this weekend