A tradition-smashing team of health professionals has released its new approach to an ancient disease--- drug addiction.
How? The scientists have created a radical new damage scale--- rating the destructive effects of drugs, from 1 to 100--- with 100 given to the most harmful drug, and zero indicating no harm at all.
"Harm" is rated on this scale in societal and personal damage. In other words, collective life harm. Harm to the individual and to those in society affected by the damage to that individual.
The collective approach is a sharp and deeply revealing new twist, on the traditional evaluation of drug impact. The scientists include Britain's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD), as well as an expert with EMCDDA, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
On this new hard look at drug damage, heroin and crack cocaine rank as the second and third most harmful drugs.
What is the worst drug--- the most horrific in scope, the leading population-ravaging drug--- of all?
Number one--- Alcohol!
Yes, it's true. Alcohol is a more dangerous drug to society than both crack and heroin!
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.
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--- the third leading risk factor for premature death and disabilities worldwide.
The team rated drugs by multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA). Damage is rated according to nine criteria (on harm to the user, like drug-specific or drug-related death, damage to health, drug dependence and loss of relationships), and seven criteria (on harm to others, like crime, environmental damage, family conflict, international damage, economic cost, and damage to community cohesion).
Crystal meth came in at (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). Ecstasy is only an eighth as harmful as alcohol.
Alcohol wins hands down with a top score of 72, much higher than than the second-place damager, heroin, with 55... then third, crack with 54.
Of course, this study will probably change few real-world conditions. Consumption of alcohol is not only almost universally legal, but traditional, and will always be with us.
Still, there is hope.
The tragedy of alcohol addiction has never been more studied than now. And there is another shocking trend to add to this---
Just as our prisons will always be packed with users of drugs much less harmful, younger and younger people are becoming fresh new alcohol addicts.