Pattaya Daily News

01 November 2010 :: 17:11:14 pm 45176

Top Medi-Journal Says Alcohol Does More Harm Than Heroin

Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack, so says a recent report in the Lancet, the UK’s top medical journal.
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Pattaya, 1 November 2010,[Pattaya Daily News]: Britain’s long-accepted drug classification system is facing a serious challenge from the former UK chief drugs’ adviser, Professor David Nutt’s recent report, which categorically states that, judged by its effects, both on the individual and society, alcohol is one of the most damaging drugs available. After he was sacked by the Labour government, the professor went on to form the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, a body whose goals are to investigate the drug issue without any political interference.

“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,” the report stated.

The drug-classification system of many countries is frequently based on the valued judgements of pressure groups. Alcohol and tobacco are (or were until the recent report) were considered socially acceptable in the UK, which also had a notorious history of opium running to China and the East, but virtually all other ‘recreational’ drugs are deemed socially unacceptable. One detects a certain partisan interest on the part of legislators, police and court officials, who one suspects are not averse to the odd tipple.

Cannabis is legal in Holland. In 1893 a substantial report by the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission concluded that ‘the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all’. Yet the Egyptian delegate to 1925 Convention on Narcotics Control maintained hashish addicts are regarded as useless derelicts.

“His eye is wild and the expression of his face is stupid. He is silent; has no muscular power; suffers from physical ailments, heart troubles, digestive troubles etc; his intellectual faculties gradually weaken and the whole organism decays. The addict very frequently becomes neurasthenic and eventually insane,” the vociferous Egyptian asserted.

This was not so far from the approach adopted by American William Randolph Hearst, the inspiration for Citizen Kane, in the 1920s. His newspapers vilified cannabis sativa, delighting in  stories about coloured men using drugs to corrupt white women, many of whom carried big knives and would go wild at any provocation. Others were perverts. Is it pure co-incidence one wonders that Hearst also had massive wood pulp paper making interests which would have been damaged by wider use of Indian hemp fibre, derived from the same plant?

To return to Professor David Nutt’s report. The panel assessed 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society, including mental and physical damage, addiction, crime and economic and community costs.

The panel decided that heroin, crack and methyl-amphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals, but alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others.

“If you take overall harm, then alcohol, heroin and crack are clearly more harmful than all others,” Prof David Nutt stated categorically.

When the scores for both types of harm were added together, alcohol emerged as the most harmful drug. Tobacco and cocaine are considered to be equally harmful, while ecstasy and LSD are among the least deleterious. In previous studies undertaken in 2007, Prof Nutt and colleagues had created a controversial harm ranking system which ranked alcohol three times more dangerous than cocaine or tobacco. Ecstasy was ranked as causing one-eighth the harm of alcohol.

It is to be noted that yah-bah – methamphetamine – of which Thailand has the highest addiction rate in the world, was also castigated as harmful, but not as addictive as ‘crystal-meth’, aka yah-ice.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Health

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