Well, yes and no

Alcohol is more harmful than crack or heroin
Alcohol causes more harm than heroin or crack cocaine, according to a new study by Professor David Nutt, the government\’s former chief drug adviser.

This all rather depends. I assume that the Professor is saying that alcohol causes more harm because many more people use it rather than that a pint is worse than a rock.

13 thoughts on “Well, yes and no”

  1. Er…

    In an Article published in the Lancet, the drug expert presents a new way of measuring drug damage that assesses both harm to the individual and harm to the rest of society.

  2. The article doesn’t seem to be available, which is a pain in the arse.

    From what I’ve been able to piece together:

    1) Nutt’s research, which looks into the total harm (to users and to non-users) caused to society by various drugs is worthwhile.

    2) His PR is dodgy at best and misleading at worst, by pretending statistics on total harm (ie “how many people are incapacitated by drug X or bashed up by its users) measure whether or not something is dangerous (which would really mean “what % chance a user of drug X has of incapacitating themselves or bashing me up).

    3) The newspaper reporting is shockingly bad and completely confused between the two concepts, because the reporters are too innumerate even to understand the difference between ‘harm’ and ‘dangerousness’.

  3. Nah, that’s an altogether far too charitable an explanation for his saying what he does. The more parsimonious reading is he’s a witless cunt who has not the most vestigial clue about that which he speaks.

    I know pissheads. I know cokeheads. I know smackheads. Meth-heads? Yup. Skunk? Yup. Speed? Yup. Crystal? Yup. Longevity with booze, in the main, is longer than with alkaloid or hallucinogen derivatives. I am a pisshead, and have been without severe harm to my internal organs for a very long time. So fuck off when you tell me vodka is worse than crack: you just make yourself look like a clueless twat. I don’t do any of the hard stuff, and I never will, but the notion that there’s some sort of moral and spiritual distinction between getting bladdered on Sambuca and doing a line of coke has always struck me as being nothing more than special pleading. I do the one, not the other, but I don’t claim any spiritual ascendancy for the fact.

  4. Oh, and john b, that sounded rather more hostile than I meant it to be, so please take it in the spirit in which it was meant.

  5. I have the impression Nutt happens to dislike alcohol but put that to one side for now. The point is that drugs policy purports to be evidence-based and intended to reduce harm but appears to be neither evidence-based nor good at reducing harm. It might, then, be good to have a rethink – something Nutt and his peers have been suggesting for years. That’s really what all this is about – pressure to genuinely develop an evidence-based drugs policy with the intention of reducing harms. Oh, and account for externalities, too.

  6. I am an “each to his own poison” kind of a chap. So one of the things that annoys me most about “legalise it” types is there wish to demonise alcohol.

    Its like everyone has to have a portion of puritanism, even smack heads.

    The only substance that needs banning, is the “Something Must Be Done” Drug. The social costs far exceed any of the others.

  7. “The only substance that needs banning, is the “Something Must Be Done” Drug”: well said, oh servile one.

  8. ukliberty said: “I have the impression Nutt happens to dislike alcohol but put that to one side for now. The point is that drugs policy purports to be evidence-based and intended to reduce harm but appears to be neither evidence-based nor good at reducing harm. It might, then, be good to have a rethink …”

    The necessary rethink is to call out politicians who purport to make policy based on evidence as the the liars they are not keep scratching around for evidence that fits a particular policy. The latter is all Nutt and his ilk are doing.

    The questions should not concern drugs and harm but authority. Does the State have the right to decide what is legal and illegal for the public to consume?

    Once legislation becomes nakedly about imposing moral and arbitrary choices on others the authority of the State is easier to diminish. So long as it can be wrapped up in cherry picked science it can be portrayed as for a greater good, to prevent harm, to protect children, etc.

  9. Does the State have the right to decide what is legal and illegal for the public to consume?

    When a consequence of consumption is harm to people other than the consumer, the state has an obligation to minimise it.

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