Addiction, Treatment and Recovery
Is Alcohol Deadlier Than Drugs?
According to a recent study paid for by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine. The results were published November 1 in The Lancet medical journal.
British experts evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on how destructive they are to the individual user as well as society as a whole.
Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamines, or crystal meth, were the most deadly to individuals. When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the deadliest. But overall, alcohol outranked all other substances, followed by heroin and crack cocaine. Marijuana, Ecstasy and LSD scored far lower.
Two members of the Betty Ford Center’s medical team weighed in on the topic.
“A person abusing alcohol can do damage to almost every organ system of their body over time. This is not true of most other substances of abuse,” said physician Dr. James Golden. “The serious medical consequences of most patients admitted for chemical dependence treatment usually involve those with alcohol dependence. Medical students are just now receiving better education regarding these issues and the treatment of addiction. Hopefully, their patients will have a better understanding of this serious problem through physician-to-patient education and increased awareness as time goes on. This will take time, however.”
Dr. Harry Haroutunian, Physician Director of the Center’s Residential Day Treatment program, said, “I think of alcohol as a “head to toe” destroyer. No vital organ or system is spared. It is in a sense contagious in its effect on the family biologically, psychologically, socially and spiritually – even in non-drinkers. Like hypertension or diabetes, alcohol dependence is truly a family disease and multisystem chronic condition requiring a lifelong strategy for treatment. We would be remiss not to mention another addiction that fits this bill, even greater in its cost to humanity, especially because it is legal and available and it is heavily taxed. Of course this is nicotine.”
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