Alcohol is the most dangerous drug to users and others.: image via espvisuals.blogspot.com
Have you ever wondered which of many evils you should choose if you are going to be naughty. The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ICDH), a UK-based advisory, headed by Dr. David Nutt, has just published a report that lists drugs in order of their danger - both to the user and to others who come in contact with the user. The leader on both scales, by far, was alcohol.
Drugs do not just cause personal problems, but can result in all kinds of public health problems, which is where the ICDH is concerned. Members of the ICDH evaluated each drug using a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), a commonly used device in determining complex issues.
On a 100 point scale each 'harm' was scored on a relative scale, 0 for no harm and 50 if the drug caused half of the harm that another drug causes, for example. Each drug was rated on its level of harm to the user and its level of harm to others and/or the 'public.'
UK Advisory Councel on the Misuse of Drugs established this model of considering 'harm' to self and others.: image via Lancet, 11.1.10, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61462-6
This next chart shows the harm scores to self and to others as evaluated by the ICDH.
Drugs ordered by overall harm scores: image via Lancet, 11.1.10, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61462-6
One thing is sure: what society classifies as "dangerous drugs," is not upheld by this assessment, nor the way drugs are commonly classified. You may notice, for example, that drugs that are illegal seem to be less harmful than some that are legal, and that the illegality of a drug can be the most significant danger of a drug.
The authors do concede that the study was one-sided; the benefits of the drugs were not taken into consideration.
Read the full study in The Lancet.
Medical News Today, The Lancet