Alcohol is more dangerous than heroin, cocaine and other “hard” drugs, claims a new study published in The Lancet.

Researchers scored a variety of legal and illegal drugs on 16 criteria of harm, nine related to the harms the drug produces in the individual taking them and seven related to the harm to society. They studied substances such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, LSD and tobacco.

SEE ALSO: Do Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol?

Coming out on top?

Alcohol. The legal drink did not rank the highest on harm to self, garnering a 26, compared to crack cocaine (37), heroin (34) and methamphetamine (32).

However, on the harm to others, alcohol trumped all others. Alcohol scored a 46, more than double second place heroin (21) and nearly three times third place crack cocaine (17).

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Here’s a list of the full rankings on “overall harm”:

Alcohol (72)

Heroin (55)

Crack cocaine (54)

Crystal meth (33)

Cocaine (27)

Tobacco (26)

Amphetamine/speed (23)

Cannabis (20)

GHB (18)

Benzodiazepines (15)

Ketamine (15)

Methadone (13)

Butane (10)

Qat (9)

Ecstasy (9)

LSD (7)

Buprenorphine (6)

Magic mushrooms (5)

The study also considered environmental damage and economic costs such as prison and health care. Criteria were weighted on their relative importance.

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The study was funded by Britain’s Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and led by former British government drug official David Nutt.

The authors write that their goal was to apply multi-criteria decision analysis modelling to re-evaluate drug harms in the U.K. They also claim the current U.K. drug classifications are not based simply on considerations of harm.


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