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Which drugs are the most dangerous? Is alcohol more dangerous than heroin? Are amphetamines more harmful than cocaine? These were among the questions asked by British scientists and answered in their paper published in the journal The Lancet (March 24, 2007).
Dr. David Nutt and his coworkers asked medical, scientific and legal experts to rate 20 different drugs on three factors:
The experts' opinions were collected and an overall ranking for each drug was calculated.
It might not surprise you that heroin was ranked as the most dangerous drug and that cocaine followed as the second most dangerous drug. Two legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, were ranked in the top ten of the most dangerous drugs. Alcohol received high scores for dependence and social harm while tobacco received high scores for dependence, but low scores for social harm because it does not cause much intoxication.
The authors of the study suggest that these results point to a new way that drugs should be classified. This new system of ranking drugs may change how drugs are regulated by governments.
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Copyright © 1996-2007, Eric H. Chudler, University of Washington