02/11/2010 12:06 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Alcohol Is The Most Dangerous Drug, Experts Claim

Forget illegal drugs like heroin crack and cocaine. When it comes down to which is the most dangerous, alcohol beats them all, says a leading drugs expert.

Alcohol is more dangerous than heroin Alcohol: more dangerous than heroin? Photo: MorgueFile, osho

According to Professor David Nutt, a former drugs adviser to the government, out of 20 drugs - legal and illegal - alcohol ranks the most harmful in terms of the damage it can do to the people who use it as well as to society in general.

The professor's team analysed drugs including heroin, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, speed, ecstasy and cannabis, as well as legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. They rated them according to how addictive they are, how much they harm the body and what effect they have on society and the environment.

Alcohol scored the most highly, followed by heroin and crack. Cocaine and tobacco shared the same score - suggesting they are equally harmful (but three times less harmful than alcohol) - while ecstasy, LSD and magic mushrooms turned out to be the least damaging, according to the team's rating system.

The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, was carried out by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, the organisation Professor Nutt established after he left his government advisory position in 2009. He was sacked when he criticised the then government's decision to upgrade the classification for cannabis from class C to class B. So you could argue the professor has a point to prove.

How does alcohol affect you? Do you think it's more dangerous than illegal drugs?

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