Oct 31, 2010

the most destructive drug

Mentioned in an article that may be of interest to students debating the current LD resolution, a new Lancet study has determined the overall most destructive drug.

Hint: most places, it's legal.
When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.

But experts said it would be impractical and incorrect to outlaw alcohol.

"We cannot return to the days of prohibition," said Leslie King, an adviser to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and one of the study's authors. "Alcohol is too embedded in our culture and it won't go away."

King said countries should target problem drinkers, not the vast majority of people who indulge in a drink or two. He said governments should consider more education programs and raising the price of alcohol so it isn't as widely available.
Non-rhetorical question: Why not take the same approach to all drugs?

Added: Sullum (linked above) highlights and critiques the study.


Anonymous said...

It's true than you can casually drink alcohol, as many people do. But can the same be said about cocaine and heroin? There are no 'casual' heroin junkies. There may be for marijuana, but in general illegal drugs are not used in moderation.

Jim Anderson said...

If we're going to generalize, in general, most drug abusers don't use heroin.

What percentage of those who do--only .2 percent of the populace--are actually hardcore users? If you have evidence, please share it.

Anonymous said...

but how exactly are they going to target certain people? the NEG is bound to argue that, right? also do you know any sites that show stats on what percentage are actually hardcore users?

Jim Anderson said...

Public health officials can "target" hardcore users through community outreach, needle exchanges, education efforts, and more. The key is that they're not literally targeting hardcore users, which seems to be the generally amped-up approach of contemporary law enforcement.

I don't know of any sites that have statistics on hardcore vs. casual users for most drugs, but I'd recommend finding a copy of Pain Control and Drug Policy, which argues that, for all users of illicit drugs, "Users who become addicted and remain addicted constitute a very small subpopulation within the user population." (Precise statistics for illicit drugs are hard to come by, because of the nature of the activity.)

Anonymous said...

I've read the reviews that you posted on this book "Saying Yes" & I'm not sure how to incorporate these facts into my case. He talks about how alcohol is portrayed as a "milder" drug; people don't believe it's as harmful as PCP or cocaine, because of its easy accessibility to the public. However, would this mean that he supports public health as a means of treating drug abusers ?

Anonymous said...

Hello! I had a question about the most powerful drug (alcohol). Could the neg argue that one mistake that the criminal justice system made was that they legalized alcohol and caused a great pain to society. And that public health (could say was given an opportunity) had a chance to fix but failed? Keep in mind this is only ONE mistake made by the criminal justice area.

Jim Anderson said...

First Anonymous,
At the end of the book, Sullum talks about appropriate ways to treat drugs: essentially, legalizing them like alcohol, so that minors wouldn't be allowed to use, and keeping the laws about public intoxication / driving while intoxicated. He doesn't advocate for a public health approach, but the book's overall argument certainly isn't opposed to a public health approach, especially when contrasted with the disastrous "War on Drugs."

Second Anonymous,
You could certainly make that argument. You'd want to make sure that you had some good stats on your side--and, if you haven't, you should read Sullum's book, which discusses the short- and long-term effects of capital-P Prohibition. (Warning: they're not entirely favorable to your argument.)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just started looking over your blog and it is very good. I have one quick question: The neg side can surely argue that because the resolution deals with ILLEGAL drugs, that the abuse of ILLEGAL drugs (and anything else illegal for that matter) ought to be treated as a matter of criminal justice because criminal justice deals with things that are illegal. How can the aff go against this?