According to today’s buzz kill (but sort of hard to believe) study published in The Lancet, alcohol is the “most harmful overall” out of a list of 20 drugs (including crack, ecstasy, pot, meth, and heroin). While heroin, crack, and meth were the most harmful “to individuals,” booze, heroin, and crack were the most harmful “to others,” according to the U.K. study, which took into account addictiveness, harm to the body, environmental damage, and the social and economic costs of people abusing the substances.
Of course, alcohol is fair more mainstream and acceptable and legal than drugs like heroin, crack, and meth…and, in fact, we don’t really call booze a “drug”…so we have some skepticism with regard this study. The more drinkers there are, the more likely some of them are to do bad things, break up families, get in car accidents, engage in bar brawls, etc. — which, of course, takes a toll on society. But people actively addicted to crack, heroin, and meth have often sort of “opted out” of society anyway, which is probably why those drug users mainly hurt themselves — unless one of them goes on a crazed spree of some sort (see: Charlie Sheen).
But in booze’s favor: It is actually good for you (“in moderation”), according to a bunch of other scientists. Most other “drugs” can’t say that. And while you’re pretty much an addict if you do meth or crack or heroin, you can drink a few glasses of alcohol now and again with no such effect. By this study, we would set aside our drink glasses and choose ecstasy instead, which ranked only an eighth as harmful as alcohol. But that would make for some really weird work parties.
So let’s generally ignore this until someone actually tries to pass a higher tax on booze or go all Prohibition, in which case we will freak.
In the meantime, we don’t suggest anyone stop boozing and start doing heroin or crack — we don’t even have to be sober to know that’s a really bad idea.