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If a medication makes you feel bad in any way or affects your ability to function as you normally would, talking to your doctor is important.
This website and the information contained herein do not -- and are not intended to -- constitute professional medical services or treatment of any kind. There's a very common drug-policy talking point that's meant to convey the absurdity of the war on drugs: Alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, even though alcohol is legal and marijuana is not. Perhaps the biggest supporting evidence for this point is a 2010 study published in The Lancet that ranked alcohol as the most dangerous drug in the United Kingdom, surpassing heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana.
Although drug policy experts generally don't dispute the assertion that alcohol is more dangerous than pot, the study, led by British researcher David Nutt, is quite controversial. This may seem like a petty academic squabble, but it's quite important as researchers and lawmakers try to advance more scientific approaches to drug policy. Nutt's analysis measures two different issues related to drug use in the UK: the risk to an individual, and the damage to society as a whole. The individual scores account for a host of variables, including mortality, dependence, drug-related family adversities, environmental damage, and effect on crime. Even if two drugs score similarly in Nutt's analysis, the underlying variables behind the scores can be completely different. The analysis doesn't fully account for a drug's legality, accessibility, or how widely a drug is used.
Since the study only looked at drug use in the UK, some scores would likely vary if Nutt's team conducted a similar analysis in the US. The drug policy experts I talked to about Nutt's study generally agreed that his style of analysis and ranking misses some of the nuance behind the harm of certain drugs.
Jon Caulkins, a drug policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University, gave the example of an alien race visiting Earth and asking which land animal is the biggest.
Nutt acknowledges these problems, but argues that his analysis provides value to policymakers. Alcohol and marijuana are both intoxicants, but one study from Columbia University researchers estimated that alcohol multiplies the chance of a fatal traffic accident by nearly 14 times, while marijuana nearly doubles the risk.
Alcohol's effects on behavior can also lead to more crime, while marijuana use appears to have little-to-no effect.
The question policy experts typically ask isn't which drug is more dangerous, but how marijuana and alcohol should be treated through policy as individual drugs with their own set of unique, complicated risks.
These problems are compounded by the perception that pot is harmless: Since many marijuana users believe what they're doing won't hurt them, they feel much more comfortable falling into a habit of constantly using the drug.


A lot of research has also linked adolescent marijuana use with a range of negative consequences, including cognitive deficiencies and worse educational outcomes. The research on other health effects of marijuana is inconclusive but should warrant some caution.
All of this helps prove that marijuana isn't totally harmless — and some of its risks are likely unknown.
Opioids, including prescription painkillers, have been linked to more deaths across the country, particularly Vermont. But it doesn't seem like anyone is taking on this kind of approach — and Nutt's style of analysis remains popular around the world.
That study has drawn widespread media attention, appearing in outlets like the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New Republic, and here at Vox.
Experts see the rankings as deeply flawed, largely because they present the harms that come from drugs in a rather crude, one-dimensional manner. Finding the best method to evaluate the risks of drugs is much more complicated than assigning numeric rankings. If heroin and crack were legal and more accessible, they would very likely rank higher than alcohol.
Nutt said meth in particular would likely be scored as more dangerous, since its use is more common in the states.
Alcohol, tobacco, and prescription painkillers are likely deadlier than other drugs because they are legal, so comparing their aggregate effects to illegal drugs is difficult. Drug experts broadly agree that individuals and society would arguably be better off if marijuana became the most accepted recreational intoxicant of choice instead of alcohol. While pot doesn't seem to cause organ failure or fatal overdoses, alcohol kills more than 29,000 people each year due to liver disease and other forms of poisoning. Alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of violent crimes, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
It would matter if marijuana ends up substituting alcohol once pot is legalized (since a safer substance would be replacing a more dangerous one), but the research on that is still early.
That doesn't mean just legalization or prohibition, but regulation, taxes, and education as well. While it's not clear whether marijuana's role with these outcomes is cause-and-effect, experts generally agree that people younger than their mid-20s should avoid pot.
One study linked the use of potent marijuana to psychotic disorders, but other studies suggest people with psychotic disorders may be predisposed to pot use.


Researchers will always need to balance making information simple and accessible for policymakers and the public with the inherent complexity of drugs and their effects. Caulkins and Peter Reuter, a drug policy expert at the University of Maryland, suggested a model in which all the major risks of drugs are drawn out and each drug is ranked within those categories. Although Nutt couldn't get funding to do an analysis in the US or Canada, he said a similar study is being published later this year assessing drug use in several countries in Europe. Each type of medication listed in the table above includes a number of different specific medications.
But heroin scores much higher for mortality risk, while crack poses a much bigger risk for mental impairment. But alcohol's crime risk is due to its tendency to make people more aggressive (and more prone to committing crime), while heroin's crime risk is based on the massive criminal trafficking network behind it. The harm score for marijuana would also likely rise after legalization, but probably not too much since pot use is already widespread. Some drugs are very harmful to individuals, but they're so rarely used that they may not be a major public health threat.
And the argument that alcohol is more dangerous than illegal substances could be used as a basis for banning or strictly regulating alcohol just as easily as it could be used as a basis for legalizing or decriminalizing other drugs. Research on whether smoked marijuana causes lung disease or cancer has yielded conflicting results, with studies that control for tobacco smoking finding no significant effect from marijuana on lung cancer risk. So heroin would be at or near the top for mortality, alcohol would be at or near the top for cause of violent crime, and tobacco would be at the top for long-term health risks. The analysis may be flawed, but its simplicity and accessibility have won over many policy circles.
A few drugs are enormously dangerous in the short-term but not the long-term (heroin), or vice versa (tobacco). And looking at deaths or other harms caused by certain drugs doesn't always account for substances, such as prescription medications, that are often mixed with others, making them more deadly or harmful than they would be alone.
The idea is lawmakers could look at this model to help decide on an individual basis which policies are better for each drug.



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Comments

  1. Escalade

    And your fasting numbers are going into the 90s or over.

    29.11.2013

  2. 095

    Breads, and excessive-protein products yet still be in a calorie deficit and lose fat.

    29.11.2013