Date PostedApril 12, 2014

Is Alcohol more Harmful than Drugs?

As RSA staff, we need to be aware of the danger our actions may present for our patrons especially when we neglect responsible service of alcohol laws and serve unduly intoxicated patrons more alcohol than we should. It is because of actions like this that alcohol has been vilified and blamed for a wide range of social problems including violence on our city streets.

Now a new study published in the British Medical journal, The Lancet says that alcohol may counted as more harmful than heroin and crack cocaine.

During the study, a number of social, physical and psychological problems that are caused by drugs were examined by a panel of experts, who concluded that alcohol, heroin and crack were the most harmful to others while heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful to individual users themselves. An expert at the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, Dr. Petros Levounis agreed with these findings.

He was quoted as saying:

“Both in terms of the medical consequences as well as societal consequences, I agree that alcohol ranks very high in overall harmfulness,”he told the News. “Alcohol has tremendous repercussions in our society in terms of drunk driving and societal consequences.”

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During the study, 20 drugs were examined based on 16 criteria and were given a score out of 100 points. Nine of the criteria related to the harm done to the user and 7 related to the harm done by users to others. According to this criterion, alcohol scored the highest points – 72 and heroin came in second with 55 points.

Surprisingly LSD and ecstasy were found to be the least harmful and tobacco was as dangerous as cocaine.

The report has been questioned by some especially because it was co-authored by Professor David Nutt, Britain’s former chief drug policy advisor who made a controversial statement last year saying that riding a horse was more dangerous than taking ecstacy.

One of the problems that researchers highlighted is that because alcohol is easy to get your hands on and legal, people don’t realise that it can become a problem – leading to addiction.

Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, chair of the psychology department at Hunter College, an addiction expert said

“It is legal and socially sanctioned, so it does not carry the same stigma and issues that illegal drugs do,”he says. “But the negative health consequences of alcohol are even greater than with many illegal drugs.”

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The trouble is that drinkers equate “legal” with “safe” but these two aren’t mutually exclusive. People need to realise that when they abuse alcohol the results can be just as dangerous, if not more so than using illicit drugs.

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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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