According to a recent British study, alcohol is rated worse than any other drug.
Worse than heroin.
Worse than cocaine.
Worse than Ecstasy.
Yes, alcohol - a legal substance - is worse than heroin, cocaine and Ecstasy - illegal substances.
According to the study, published in the Lancet, a British medical journal, alcohol is more harmful than any illegal drug. The authors of this study came to this conclusion after looking at 20 drugs and how they measure up on 16 various points, including harm to users' physical and mental health, social harms including crime, family adversities, and economic costs.
Heroin, crack and methylamphetamine (also known as crystal meth) were rated as the drugs most harmful to individuals; while alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were deemed the most harmful to society.
When scores were tallied for harm to self and harm to society, alcohol emerged as the leader, followed by heroin and crack cocaine.
Experts are saying alcohol rated number one because of its wide availability and use, and its consequences on users and those around them.
I like to think of the drunken idiots at hockey or football games to illustrate my point there. Just look at how many people become "out-of-control" at sporting events because they are wasted and therefore ruin the fun for everyone else. This is the negative effect alcohol has on society.
In fact, it's one of the biggest reasons behind why I dislike those types of sports so much. I mean there is nothing enjoyable about being surrounded by a bunch of drunken people who are way too involved in the game for even their own good. Though I'm sure if these people could refrain from drinking their faces off the whole event would actually appear civil.
I think back to when I still lived in Winnipeg and the stories I heard at work the Tuesday after the Banjo Bowl. One of my co-workers had family in from Saskatchewan for the game and he (as a Bomber fan) was absolutely disgusted with how a group of drunk Winnipeg fans treated his family - which included kids.
They were rude, used vulgar language and blatantly disregarded the fact his family was just trying to enjoy themselves. Given the intense rivalry between the Riders and Bombers, there was bound to be a bit of talk. But I would be willing to bet my right arm alcohol intensified this situation.
And don't think I'm just picking on sports as a place for excessive alcohol consumption. It happens everywhere. And everywhere it happens, the situation intensifies. This often leads to words or actions which leave others feeling horrible.
Of course alcohol is so engrained in our culture that it's not like it's going to go away. We can't go back to prohibition. Nor would most of us want to. I know I wouldn't.
One of the suggestions made to curb alcohol abuse was to increase the price - yet again. I think that is another horrible idea. I mean, how is it fair for those who can enjoy alcohol in moderation to be forced to fork out even more money.
I don't think it would be a good solution for alcoholics either - especially those with little money to begin with. This would ultimately lead to more harm to society. I see increased crime, increased issues within families and workplaces and just overall more problems.
Really the best solution is education. Education is key.
We need to educate young people about enjoying alcohol responsibly and offer help to those who do become addicted. The problem is not likely to go away any time soon, so the best thing we can do is find ways to cope.