A recently-published study in The Lancet concludes that alcohol is the most socially-harmful drug, even more harmful than crack cocaine or heroin. The study's authors scored 20 drugs on 16 criteria, nine of which related to the harms that a particular drug does to an individual, and seven related to the harms a drug does to others. The criteria examined the social, physical and psychological problems each drug causes. They scored the drugs on a 100-point scale, with higher numbers given to the most problematic drugs. Alcohol got the highest score at 72 points, due to its medical and overall societal effects, including drunk driving. Heroin came in second, with 55 points, and crack cocaine was third with 54 points. About 17.6 million adults in the U.S. are either alcoholics or have problems caused by alcohol, yet alcohol is widely advertised using humor, hip themes, animals, sexuality and even free samples. Alcohol is also a legal drug, and people often equate "legal" with "safe." Since alcohol is socially-sanctioned, easy to access and doesn't bear the same stigma of illegal drugs, many people don't perceive that an increased use of alcohol is a problem, leading it to, in fact, be a problem.
By Anne Landman on November 02, 2010