One Every Ten Seconds
With all this taken into consideration, which drugs were considered the most harmful? Mostly due to its harm to others – including the wider economy – alcohol was considered to be by far the most dangerous. Heroin and crack cocaine were next on the list, mostly due to the harm to individual users, although they still had a significant “harm to others” component. Cannabis was ranked 8th for overall harm, whereas ecstasy and LSD were considered among the least harmful. Tobacco was ranked 6th, just behind cocaine.
Despite the European study using different harm weightings, the results were pretty much identical, with an extremely high level of agreement, or correlation, between the two studies. Only a few drugs – methamphetamine and ecstasy – changed positions slightly.
“We repeated the study at a European level, expanding it from a smaller British scale – and our experts really agree with each other,” lead author Dr. Jan van Amsterdam, of the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam, told IFLScience.
Regardless, the conclusion seems to be that alcohol is the most dangerous drug around. It directly causes a plethora of diseases, from cardiovascular and neurological disorders to liver degeneration; it indirectly causes transportation accidents, increases promiscuous activities and thus the likelihood of becoming infected by a range of pathogens, and makes an enormous dent in a nation’s economy as it pays for treatment for those suffering from alcohol-related problems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3.3 million deaths every year are caused by the harmful use of alcohol – that’s 5.9 percent of all annual deaths. Shockingly, this is roughly one person every 10 seconds.