Alcohol more harmful to society than heroin or crack

I categorized this post under crime, health and politics. The first two are obvious: illegal addiction produces crime; addiction of most kinds produces ill health. Politics – because political hacks both sides of the pond consider the first two questions only for what they mean when it comes to reelection.

Alcohol is the most dangerous drug in the UK by a considerable margin, beating heroin and crack cocaine into second and third place, according to an authoritative study published today which will reopen calls for the drugs classification system to be scrapped and a concerted campaign launched against drink.

Led by the sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt with colleagues from the breakaway Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, the study says that if drugs were classified on the basis of the harm they do, alcohol would be class A, alongside heroin and crack cocaine.

Today’s paper, published by the respected Lancet medical journal, will be seen as a challenge to the government to take on the fraught issue of the relative harms of legal and illegal drugs, which proved politically damaging to Labour…

Today’s study offers a more complex analysis that seeks to address the 2007 criticisms. It examines nine categories of harm that drugs can do to the individual “from death to damage to mental functioning and loss of relationships” and seven types of harm to others. The maximum possible harm score was 100 and the minimum zero.

Overall, alcohol scored 72 – against 55 for heroin and 54 for crack. The most dangerous drugs to their individual users were ranked as heroin, crack and then crystal meth. The most harmful to others were alcohol, heroin and crack in that order…

The authors write: “Our findings lend support to previous work in the UK and the Netherlands, confirming that the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm. They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports that aggressively targeting alcohol harm is a valid and necessary public health strategy.”

Our governments – and the parliamentary hacks fiddling with the same questions – only seem to care about religious morality. Not the value of that morality. Though a far cry from systematic examinations of ethics, there is an odd bit of value in some of the outdated maundering. But, what counts about morality to our politicians is how many votes will it get at election time.

Witness the horde of Democrats falling over themselves in the United States to capitulate before Tea Party mobs. Unwilling, lacking sufficient bravery to explain last century’s basic solutions to the free market criminals who took their dishonesty into the biggest economic crash this side of 1929. Too cowardly to explain essential solutions to moralists who demand blood – instead of reconstruction.

The Labour Party ain’t much better. Lib Dems? Probably worse – since their parliamentary party is ready to compromise with anyone this side of the Attila the Hun or Dick Cheney in order to get a chance to prove themselves ready to lead minor ministries.

Scientists have offered yet another reasoned analysis to politicians. What’s the likelihood of anyone listening?

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