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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The 20 most harmful drugs you can expose yourself to

Which are the 20 most harmful drugs around? Well that depends on who you ask...The media has supervised the spread of dangerous drugs in our society for years and, the public has slowly made up their minds about which the most harmful drugs might be. That list did however not have a lot in common with the list published in The Lancet in 2007. All of a sudden, alcohol and tobacco ranked among the ten most dangerous substances used by humans. Both alcohol and tobacco were assessed to be more dangerous than illegal drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy.

The controversial list was based off of the first scientific study made by a team of british researchers, under the lead of David J. Nutt, a professor at the University of Bristol heading their Psychopharmacology Unit, who also holds the Edmond J Safra chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London.Nutt is a member of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, is on the Council and is President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

It is estimated that tobacco causes 40 percent of all hospital illnesses, while alcohol is involved in more than 50 percent of all visits to hospital emergency rooms. In light of these statistics, the authors of this study question why alcohol and tobacco are legal to use within current drug policies for Britain and the United States, while less harmful drugs like ecstasy and LSD are deemed illegal to use.

The bottom line: alcohol and tobacco are two of the most dangerous substances that you can expose yourself to on a regular basis. In terms of overall potential to cause harm, if used regularly, alcohol and tobacco belong in the same category as other recreational drugs like cocaine and heroin.

This of course caused a lot of upset feelings among the masses in general and, among cirtain politicians in particular. So much in fact, that Professor Nutt was sacked as Drugs adviser by Home Secretary Alan Johnson in October 2009, after publicly disagreeing with the government's decision to re-classify cannabis as a Class B drug and not to downgrade ecstasy. Five ACMD members then resigned in the row that followed Nutt's departure. It later emerged that two other ACMD members had also stepped down, though the Home Office said their departures were unrelated to the Nutt afaire.

In the study, The following three factors were considered in ranking the harmfulness of each drug that was evaluated:

•Physical harm to the user
•Addictive potential of the drug
•The drug's overall impact on society

Psychiatrists who specialize in treating addictive behavior and legal or police officials with scientific or medical expertise were asked to assign a score to each of the three factors listed above for each drug that was evaluated in this study. All told, 20 different drugs were evaluated, including cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, amphetamines, and LSD.

Ranked from least to most dangerous, the 20 most dangerous substances were deemed to be:
20. Khat
19. Alkyl nitrates
18. Ecstasy
17. GHB
16. Anabolic steroids
15. Methylphenidate
14. LSD
13. 4-MTA, 4-Methylthioamphetamine, MDMA
12. Solvents
11. Cannabis
10. Buprenorphine
9. Tobacco
8. Amphetamins
7. Benzodiazepines
6. Ketamine
5. Alcohol
4. Street Methadone
3. Barbiturates
2. cocaine
1. Heroin

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