I love studies that state the obvious. Especially when the no-brainer conclusions still manage to shock people . Latest example: “Alcohol More Deadly Than Heroin, Study Finds.”
According to the Associated Press report, “British experts evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole. Researchers analyzed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.”
The report says booze scored so high because it’s legal and, therefore, much more available than the hard drugs it was compared to. When abused, alcohol damages nearly all organs and is connected to higher death rates, higher crime and higher rates of collateral damage (the families devastated by living with an alcoholic, for example).
I don’t take issue with the folks who conduct these studies. There is a lot for the masses to learn from them. The reason I’m feeling snarky about it is that the results are always so painfully obvious to someone who has struggled with addictive behavior. And to me, it’s painfully obvious that addictive substances that are legal will always kill more people than the illegal, harder-to-get stuff like heroin.
Anything will kill you if done to excess.
Drink a lot of alcohol every day and it’ll destroy your organs quicker than it will for the person who drinks in moderation.
Binge eat all the time and you’ll get heart disease, colon cancer and other maladies more quickly and severely than the guy who eats everything in moderation.
If you’re a recovering addict as I am, you know that it’s really the compulsive behavior itself — not the substance — that will kill you eventually.
You can’t solve the problem by outlawing the substance. Prohibition didn’t work. I don’t think it works with pot and harder drugs either.
Smokers understand. They know cigarettes cause cancer, but they do it anyway. It’s a compulsion they can’t control, and they can’t stop until push comes to shove. Even then, it’s not always enough.
You have to find whatever is at the core of your soul, the pain that makes you abuse the substance. Then you have to address that core problem. Otherwise, it’ll kill you someday. I did this with intensive therapy, medication and lifestyle changes.
But saying “just do it” or “just say no” oversimplifies things. If you’re under the spell of whatever you’re addicted to, those statements are a joke.
Some of us are lucky enough to get beyond the joke and take action, but man, it’s hard. One of the hardest things ever.
I guess my point is that these studies, while valuable, are never the definitive, final word. It’s easy to declare one substance more lethal than another.
But in doing so, we skate over the more insidious beast at the heart of the matter.