The Most Dangerous Drug in the World: Meth, Heroin, Crack, or...?
I Fucking Love Science posted an editorial examining which drug, from a scientific perspective, is the most dangerous.
Of course the idea of "most dangerous" is somewhat subjective, and can vary depending on the criteria that one chooses to measure by. Many would consider heroin to be the most dangerous drug because of its reputation, and the frequency with which we hear about overdose deaths. Yet if you look at the statistics, prescription opiates such as Vicodin and OxyContin kill far more people than heroin. Others might consider drugs like PCP or crystal meth to be the most dangerous, because of the common idea that they cause psychosis and violent behavior in users - so while they may be less dangerous to the user as compared to heroin or prescription opiates, they are more dangerous to other people and society as a whole.
Looking at two studies, one from the UK and one from the EU that took into account a variety of harm caused both to the user and to society as a whole, the obvious, indisputable conclusion is that alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug. As Professor David Nutt, the lead author of the UK study noted in his summary "[The study] found the legal status of most drugs to bear little relation to their harms." He also brings up the point that the "controlled status of some drugs will make them more harmful as unsafe production of the drug introduces contaminants and risky practices by users puts them at risk of diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV.".
In America, the legal status of drugs is ranked by their DEA schedule levels, with Schedule 1 place the most severe restrictions on the drug, and the harshest penalties for possession, sale, and use. Yet many of the most dangerous drugs are not Shedule 1, and in the case of alcohol not scheduled at all. And many of the drugs found to be least harmful, LSD, mushrooms, and ecstasy, are Schedule 1.
Read the full editorial from I Fucking Love Science here: