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#330371 - 03/23/07 10:52 AM Food (and drink) for thought
Cord Offline
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Registered: 01/13/05
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Loc: Cambridge UK.
Quote:

Alcohol is ranked almost as harmful as heroin in a controversial new drug classification system proposed by a team of leading scientists.

The class A drug Ecstasy, possession of which can result in a seven-year prison sentence, is placed near the bottom of the league table which lists "harm scores'' for different substances.

LSD, another class A drug, is also considered relatively safe despite its powerful hallucinogenic properties.

Cannabis, recently downgraded to class C, occupies a middle position. It is rated more dangerous than Ecstasy, LSD and the dance floor drug GHB, but less harmful than tobacco.

The table, published in The Lancet medical journal, was drawn up by a team of highly respected scientists led by Professor David Nutt, from the University of Bristol, and Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council.

It is intended to be a model for policy makers which is more scientifically based than the current Misuse of Drugs Act system that attaches "a, b, and c'' labels to illicit drugs.

The scientists identified three main factors that together determined the harmfulness of a controlled substance.

These were: the physical harm to the individual user caused by the drug, the tendency of the drug to induce dependence, and the effect of the drug's use on families, communities and society.

Each of these categories was split into three sub-components, providing nine parameters of risk.

Independent experts, including psychiatrists, chemists and forensic scientists, were invited to rate each of these parameters on a four-point scale. Zero denoted "no risk'', 1 "some risk'', 2 "moderate risk'' and 3 "extreme risk''.

Scores were combined to produce estimates of harm for each of 20 different drugs.

Unsurprisingly, the results placed heroin at the head of the table with an overall "harm score'' of 2.7, followed by cocaine which scored 2.3.

But more controversially, alcohol is ranked as the fifth most dangerous drug, scoring just under 2 on the table. Tobacco is in ninth position, with a score of 1.7. Ecstasy is listed at number 18 and scores just over 1.1.

Speaking at a news briefing in London, Prof Blakemore said: "Alcohol and tobacco are way up there in the league table, with alcohol being not very far behind demonised terrors of the street like heroin.''

He pointed out that at present there was no rational, evidence-based method for assessing the harmfulness of drugs. "We have tried to develop such a method,'' said Prof Blakemore.

"We hope that policy makers will take note of the fact that the resulting ranking of drugs differs substantially from their classification in the Misuse of Drugs Act and that alcohol and tobacco are judged more harmful than many illegal substances.''

The scientists said they were not pressing the Government to adopt the new system, but hoped it would spark a debate that might lead to future reforms.




Social perception of 'established' legal narcotics has often had the whiff of hypocrisy (i have heard many in pubs 'putting the world to rights' about 'druggies' as they light up their 15th smoke over their 8th pint of the night), but its refreshing to see such a brave piece of research getting coverage in these politicaly correct times.

the moment this turns into a thread advocating illegal substance abuse, I will lock it- thats not the point, it is a chance to examine our perception of what wetern culture sees as acceptable and why.
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#330372 - 03/23/07 11:56 AM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
MattJ Offline
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I have always wondered how tobacco remains legal in the face of crushing amounts of negative data against it.

Alcohol is much better in that regard, although the potential for abuse with it is very high. And at least alcohol has some nutritional/health value to it.
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#330373 - 03/23/07 03:31 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: MattJ]
Leo_E_49 Offline
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Registered: 02/24/05
Posts: 4117
Loc: California
Quote:

I have always wondered how tobacco remains legal in the face of crushing amounts of negative data against it.




Lots and lots of money.

Quote:

Alcohol is much better in that regard, although the potential for abuse with it is very high. And at least alcohol has some nutritional/health value to it.




Does it? As I understand it, most of the health benefits of drinking wine, for example, can be got by drinking grape juice.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=15553

P.S. If you're looking for anti-oxidants, prunes beat anything else you can eat.


Edited by Leo_E_49 (03/23/07 03:35 PM)
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#330374 - 03/23/07 03:53 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Leo_E_49]
MattJ Offline
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Leo -

Not arguing there are better sources of nutrition. But in comparison to cigarettes, alcohol is an infinitley better source.
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#330375 - 03/23/07 03:54 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: MattJ]
Cord Offline
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Registered: 01/13/05
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Loc: Cambridge UK.
Quote:

Alcohol is much better in that regard, although the potential for abuse with it is very high. And at least alcohol has some nutritional/health value to it.




But here is social perception in action. Despite all the propaganda regarding cigarrettes, when examined from personal health, and negative impact on society, it has been found that booze is worse.

Think about it- violence, loss of job, vehicle crashes, adultery- all huge negatives, yet when did anyone ever say 'leave it buddy, he's not worth it, you just had one too many cigarettes'

Now i am not saying all should be banned, nor or should be legal. Its the humans interaction with any and all substances that is at the crux of things, but as it stands, the dear lovely foamy buddy of the working guy is clearly in the same league as heroin and cocaine when it comes to its impact on society. That is a sobering thought (pun intended)
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#330376 - 03/23/07 04:07 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
MattJ Offline
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Sorry, I may not be making myself clear. I am not a fan of alcohol, and do not partake myself, except very rarely.

I do not dispute alcohol's ill effects on society at large or the individual in question - I have seen the effects in person, many times.

Merely talking a factual comparison of the relative health merits of alcohol in relation to cigarettes. Alcohol could be argued to have some (the US Food and Drug Administraton classifies alcohol as a food (!)), where cigarettes have NONE.
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#330377 - 03/23/07 04:28 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: MattJ]
Dereck Offline
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Registered: 10/04/04
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Loc: Great White North
Interesting article and interesting points by all. After reading all of this is sure makes me think differently.

I just wanted to point out that if a responsible adult were to drink alcohol and only a reasonable amount there are no major health risks to themselves nor others around them. However no amount of smoke is good for the user nor the people around them. I'm sorry, I understand where everybody is coming from and it really gave me some food for thought, but I rank cigarette smoking as more harmful then drinking alcohol.

If a person wants to ruin their life because of alcohol then so be it, not with standing I understand that their actions can affect others plus if drinking and driving then it can effect even more people ... but that is a whole other different venue that I will not get into. However smoking affects all of those around them if they want it or not. You can drink responsibly but smoking you cannot say the same about.

Sorry, not trying to be righteous and please only accept these as my views. My whole life has grown up around alcoholism and smoking. I've never smoked in my life but yes I partake in the consumption of alcohol. Coming from a family of alcoholics/smokers I can see the draw to the alcohol however I also have a brain and am responsible with it.
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#330378 - 03/23/07 05:07 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
grumbleweed Offline
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Registered: 08/12/06
Posts: 446
i hear you cord and mostly agree, however i dont think its possible to be a casual user of heroin?, i dont get cold turkey when i'm not drinking for weeks on end and need to go breaking in someones house to steal a dvd player to sell up the pub for my next pint of IPA...that said in a hypothetical debate in the commons and i am an MP--'what shall we do today then lads, free the 3rd world, save the polar bears, affordable housing to all, no, lets ban booze or ciggies', i'd vote to ban booze for your reasoning, booze is a huge social problem ....personally i've smoked about 3 ciggies in my life and the only time i tried drugs was a 'joint' that nearly had me cough a lung up, no fun!
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#330379 - 03/23/07 05:48 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: grumbleweed]
Cord Offline
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Registered: 01/13/05
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Loc: Cambridge UK.
Quote:

i hear you cord and mostly agree, however i dont think its possible to be a casual user of heroin?




Actually it is a common misconception that 'one hit and your hooked' with heroin. Many people do not show signs of dependency till a relatively regular pattern of use is in place. The 'hit' from a cigarrette reaches the brain much faster than that of intravenous opiates, and as such is 'easier' to get hooked on.
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#330380 - 03/27/07 10:24 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
Steel91 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/06
Posts: 451
Loc: Alabama
This reminded me of a funny e-mail I got one time, I can't remember the whole thing but it said sumthin like, in one year humans consume x amount of s**t from drinking bottled water from springs. There is no sh*t in beer because it goes through a distilation process (or sumthin' along those lines) then it said "it's better to drink beer and talk sh*t rather than drink water and be full of sh*t" wish I could find where I printed it out so I could copy it and make it sound funnier.
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#330381 - 03/29/07 09:24 AM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
Tom2199 Offline
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Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 834
Loc: England
Heroin is less addictive that cigarettes because it hits the neurological pathways slower?

this makes no sense?

you see a much higher drug dependency in heroin users than cigarette users, why? its a powerful opiate the effects are much stronger,
nicotine hits the system quicker? so that makes it more addictive? people chase the effects and well being from drugs not the instant feeling of being on something, and the statement itself is debatable since heroin can be injected straight into the bloodstream as well as smoked (isn't the bloodstream where the nicotine is needed not the brain) the only sort of drugs that effect the mind neurologically are psychedelics from my understanding, drugs like LSD really are biologically harmless but effect the pathways in the brain, i guess that report doesn't actually go into the hundreds of cannabis psychosis cases that happen everywhere otherwise it might be rated a little higher on the list.

I think its pretty hard to get hooked on cigarettes unless you smoke solid for 1 month its not an enjoyable experience at first, heroin is the complete opposite and the withdrawal symptoms are hell.

If your are in a position to take heroin for the first time and you do it, im afraid thats pretty much the end of the road for you iv seen it first hand.
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#330382 - 03/29/07 11:37 AM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Tom2199]
Leo_E_49 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/24/05
Posts: 4117
Loc: California
Here's the full list:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/drug-ranking.htm

http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/archive/2563/25633101.jpg

Interesting to see where they placed steroids, considering they can cause cancer, heart disease, roid rage and other major health problems.


Edited by Leo_E_49 (03/29/07 11:39 AM)
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#330383 - 03/29/07 12:51 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Leo_E_49]
Tom2199 Offline
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Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 834
Loc: England
its a bit funny that solvent abuse is so far down since
"More than one person a week dies from volatile solvent abuse."

i think thats a little more dangerous than any speed addiction fuels, guess its been pushed down because of
"the drug's ill effects on society" which doesn't actually make a drug more dangerous, just the buffoons using it.
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#330384 - 03/29/07 03:22 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Tom2199]
Cord Offline
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Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 11399
Loc: Cambridge UK.
Guys, what you are demonstrating is the exact reason why the list and a shake up of peoples perceptions of substance use/abuse are so important.

You cant say 'steroids' cause this that and the other, they are a group of very different and specific drugs, with wildly varying risks and effects.

Solvents, LSD, Ecstasy. Yes they are all substances with social and individual impact, but when looked at objectively, cause a tiny fraction of the harm to the public in general that Alcohol and Cigarrette related illness do.
80,000 deaths a year directly attributed to cigarrette smoking per year. Then there are those deaths in which it is a contributory factor.

Someone goes to 'AA' and they get support from friends and family. Someone on methodone gets called a 'junky' and neighbours hide the silverware.

Its all perception. here in the UK, our national health system is stretched to breaking point. Waiting lists that stretch for YEARS, nurses quitting, over worked and underpaid, and bed shortages at an alltime high.

The vast majority of the illness that is causing this nightmare is SELF INFLICTED through lifestyle choices that involve LEGAL narcotics, yet we all 'tut tut' at people who's choice of 'poison' causes less of an impact to our daily lives than the 'respectable' established alternatives.

If a drug hit the streets tomorrow that was a potent carcigen, highly addictive, that damaged the heart and lungs of not only the user, but all those in their physical presence, and was guaranteed to claim 80,000 lives minimum per year, would it be 'legal' and available to 16 year olds in corner shops throughout the country?

Now clearly, prohibition is not the answer, and never has been, but part of how we deal with narcotics MUST bring alcohol and tobacco into the discussion on the same playing field, or else we start the process from a foundation of bias and hypocrisy, and we will be doomed to make the same mistakes all over again.
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#330385 - 03/29/07 04:06 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
grumbleweed Offline
Member

Registered: 08/12/06
Posts: 446
The genie is out of the bottle so to speak regarding alcohol in its acceptance in societies and tax revenues it feeds governments and employment it gives to tens of thousands in the production, distribution and sale of the stuff. As far as Ďdrugsí goes it would be political suicide to legalise class A drugs like heroin and the like. The status quo isnít perfect and many people are acutely aware of the damage booze causes users and society in general. IYO where should we go from here, legalise the lot and make a fat wad of money from it, or keep a firm hand trying to keep out of the country/off the streets?

Oh I told a porky about my drug use, Iíve chewed coca leaves (primary ingredient of cocaine I think) trekking in the Peruvian Andes at 5000M, its used my locals to relieve altitude sickness, hunger and cold. Did nothing for me, still freezing cold, craved a big mac and was still light headed.
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#330386 - 03/29/07 05:47 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: grumbleweed]
Cord Offline
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Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 11399
Loc: Cambridge UK.
I think the answer lies in decriminilisation of the use/possession of any and all drugs. If a 'user' is not in fear of being arrested for their actions, they are more likely to cooperate with police in regards to bad dealers/dangerous cutting practices. This would in turn lead to more organ grinders being taken down, and less time spent by the police chasing monkeys.
Dealers/importers/smugglers are where the efforts need to be put. The 'addict' is just the symptom. Treating the symptom is good for political rallies and placating daily mail readers, but does nothing to tackle the cause.
A common misconception of Holland is that hard drugs are 'legal', they are not. They are decriminalised, and doctors treat addicts, they do not sit as moral judges. more people die from methodone than from heroine. 'Clean' safely cut heroin of a specific strength can be used by the addict for many years with much less risk than methodone. If doctors could prescribe such heroin and if the recipients were monitored and given auxiliary support to quit (we offer this to smokers on the NHS), then suddenly their is no need to steal for your fix, suddenly you dont have people dropping dead because some psycho cut his merchandise with rat poison.
Would the tax money it took to set up the support be more than is spent by police in dealing with the crimes of the desperate and addicted? Would such a scheme send a message of 'heroin is not dangerous?' to the kids of today?
Course not.

As for the 'genie being out the bottle' in regards to alcohol, so it is with hard drugs. Lets not forget we fought a war to secure control of Hong Kongs poppy fields, and the use of opiates is as rooted in human culture as the fermentation of fruit.
Why trust one drug and not the other?
My contention is to trust neither, but to afford the same support to addicts, and control measures for all drugs across the board.
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#330387 - 03/29/07 07:19 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
Tom2199 Offline
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Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 834
Loc: England
If class A's were legal it would remove the stigma attached to use of it to some extent, instead of isolating drug users and expelling them from society, people could get help and support naturally although this is happy la la land talk in all respect and addiction will still have to be fueled somehow.
You cant really legalize something like that IMO it will just lead to people who wouldn't normally do things to try things, socially acceptable drug addiction will just have people mixing with others who are venerable or uneducated like at party's etc unless drug awareness is rammed into children's skulls from age 5 and i don't think the government has the time, money, knowledge to control such substances. not for a couple of melenia anyway.
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#330388 - 03/29/07 09:03 PM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
Leo_E_49 Offline
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Registered: 02/24/05
Posts: 4117
Loc: California
Quote:

You cant say 'steroids' cause this that and the other, they are a group of very different and specific drugs, with wildly varying risks and effects.




Tell that to the FDA. I was being sarcastic, maybe I should have put a face.

Quote:

Treating the symptom is good for political rallies and placating daily mail readers




And therein lies the problem. Who, in the general public these days, really cares about other people in order to want this problem solved? We still live in a democracy of sorts and people have the power to solve such problems, instead most people sit their asses down in front of the TV all day chewing their fast food, being told what to think.

Society doesn't seem to respond to issues such as this on the whole. Sure, if it affects the amount of tax they have to pay there will be an uproar but thousands of deaths a year caused by alcohol and smoking and not a peep. I think people need to concentrate more about their collective responsibilities than their rights these days. Politicians have people wrapped around their fingers and it's the lot of them, not just a particular party.

Quote:

i don't think the government has the time, money, knowledge to control such substances




Rubbish, there's plenty of time, money and knowledge there if it will win them the votes of the people. Thing is, people just don't educate themselves about these kinds of issues and/or they just don't care. I don't expect that it would be easy to get educated about things which the government consider controversial either, what with the BBC's relative monopoly on media in this country, as "unbiased" as they are relative to other media corporations. Politicians listen to their voters and if voters say "deal with drugs in such and such a way" they'll follow or lose the next election.


Edited by Leo_E_49 (03/29/07 09:20 PM)
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#330389 - 03/30/07 05:04 AM Re: Food (and drink) for thought [Re: Cord]
grumbleweed Offline
Member

Registered: 08/12/06
Posts: 446
I would like to see drugs legalised, cut out the middle men, governments could buy direct from the cartels. have the drugs prepared safely in registered labs, make them cheaper/safer/less stigma (if there is anyway, once upon a time maybe!) for users to buy, in theory could reduce crime. i do not give one thought if morons want to put garbage in their bodys, i only care about the society my daughter will grow up in and improving it. but really, i'm not sure whats for the best.
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