Alcohol More Harmful than Drugs

Alcohol has recently been called a toxic substance more devastating than illicit drugs. This has some people wondering why alcohol is even legal while so many other drugs are illegal.

More Harmful than Marijuana

Researchers at the Imperial College of London recently published their findings about alcohol in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. They compared the effects of alcohol with the effects of cannabis, and found that alcohol is more than twice as harmful as marijuana. The researchers looked at physical, psychological, and social harms of both substances. For example, marijuana is known to harm the lungs and circulatory system, and has negative effects on the user’s mental health. Alcohol, however, they called a “toxic substance” that is responsible for nearly five percent “of the total global disease burden.” (1)

Dangers of Alcohol

We know that alcohol can easily be abused, and when it is, it has some serious consequences. There is the harm it does to the body, especially the liver and brain. Then there is the harm alcohol does to families, as people struggle to make relationships with alcoholics work. Alcohol abusers experience impaired judgment, which leads to things like drunken driving, unsafe sex, accidents, and run-ins with the law. The World Health Organization reports that alcohol consumption causes four percent of all deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that an estimated 79,000 lives are lost in the U.S. every year due to excessive drinking, and that the overall economic cost of excessive drinking by Americans is $223.5 billion annually. (1)

Alcohol can lead to some pretty serious problems. Any family member of an alcoholic can tell you about how this substance completely dominates their life and relationships. Alcohol is behind many divorces, many child abuse and neglect cases, and many families’ financial woes.

Learning Control and Moderation

If alcohol is such a devastating substance, why is it even legal? Some reports say that when used in moderation, alcohol is no more harmful than other drinks. It is not necessary for us to go back to the days of Prohibition. That attempt only taught us that it is nearly impossible to keep alcohol out of people’s hands. What we should work on as a society is learning the importance of drinking in moderation, and to help alcoholics get out from under the burden they have created for themselves. Because of the mindset that we have built up over the years that getting drunk is fun or will help solve our problems, even our teens learn how to abuse alcohol at a young age. We need to get ourselves past those harmful ideas. A person should never drink to get drunk or to numb their cares away. By being responsible and staying in control, alcohol can be consumed safely.

Sources

New research highlights dangers of alcohol
Popular intoxicants: what lessons can be learned from the last 40 years of alcohol and cannabis regulation?

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