According to a recent Australian study, alcohol causes the most overall harm to the Australian community.
Even drugs like methamphetamine, ice and heroin play second fiddle to alcohol, in terms of the damage that can be imposed on users and those around them.
The study, funded by the St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, analysed 22 drugs including alcohol to measure the wholistic influence they had on society.
The study relied on the judgement of 25 drug-harm experts, fished from a pool of emergency service workers, addiction specialists, doctors, police, and those working in the welfare and homeless sectors. They classified the drugs on a score of zero to 100, noting the damage they caused users, including death, injury and illness.
Alcohol was ranked at 77 out of 100, crystal meth at 66, heroin at 58, and fentanyls at 51. This data falls in line with previous studies concerning the potency of alcohol as a drug, including one that postulated cannabis causes less damage to the brain than alcohol.
What does this data look like? According to Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo, nearly 6000 Australians die from alcohol-related harm every year. Despite this, half a million Australians are unable to access the necessary healthcare assistance they need, with alcoholism being the frontrunner in terms of unmet medical demand.
The cost of alcohol on the community is significant. It amounts to $6.8 billion dollars yearly, which is not unexpected considering its relationship with 60 physical illnesses, and its abuse by those suffering from mental illnesses like depression or anxiety.
While we are mindful of the dangers of recreational drug use (apparently NSW loves cocaine and Victorians love heroin), given the wide-spread accessibility of alcohol, its potency is considerably more pronounced. Keeping ourselves and our mates in check will be more important than ever the next time we’re at the pub.
Check out a full graph of the results here.