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British scientists conducted a study to examine which drugs are the most harmful to people’s overall health and well-being. The purpose of the study is to help guide health policy issues in Britain but the information is relevant to other countries as well. The study looked at drug-specific interactions in the body and body functions and drug related deaths. They also looked at developed dependence in the body, family conflict and loss of relationships because of drug dependence. Finally they looked at crime, environment damage, economic costs and international damage. All of these factors contribute to damage to community cohesion and that was measured as well. The drugs that were studied were legal substances like tobacco, alcohol, valium, and methadone. Illegal substances were studied as well, including heroin, crack cocaine, crystal meth, cocaine, speed, marijuana, ecstasy, steroids, LSD and magic mushrooms.
The results might surprise you--the most harmful drug was alcohol, receiving the highest score of 72 out of a possible 100. I think the results are important for people to think about in terms of their behaviors. Since alcohol is considered a legal drug people forget about the dangers of drinking. People go for a drink or two after work all of the time and many times people may drink more than their body can handle and drive under the influence which is a potential danger to the community. People have a stressful day at work and they use drinking as a way of calming themselves. Many people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental illness drink as a way of self-medicating. Drinking while pregnant can impact the well-being of a child. Alcohol can insidiously become addictive because it is considered a socially acceptable behavior.
I decided to write about this study because I find it amazing that alcohol is more dangerous to individuals, family and community health than many illegal drugs. Alcohol is something that our society accepts as part of normal behavior but it has dangers for the community. I believe anything in moderation is part of healthy lifestyle.