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A new BMJ Open study has found that "heroin, crack cocaine, crystal meth, alcohol and cocaine were in the top five places for all categories of harm, with LSD, ecstasy, methylphenidate, magic mushrooms and cannabis in the bottom five places for all categories of harm. Notably, legal substances such as alcohol, nicotine and volatile agents ranked as more harmful than some class A drugs, although these drugs are more socially and culturally embedded in Scotland than the prohibited ones."
The study also concluded: “Alcohol misuse is also known to be a risk factor for suicide, and the National Confidential Inquiry9 into suicides indicated that 58% of individuals dying by suicide in Scotland had a history of alcohol misuse and in 17% alcohol dependence was the primary diagnosis.
The burgeoning evidence of the harm caused by tobacco and alcohol would also suggest that from a scientific perspective these drugs are currently misclassified and that a new method for ranking drug harm, which could guide policies and public health strategies, is required, with many in the scientific and medical community feeling that this should be separated from the criminal justice system and associated penalties. Any new system would also have to address the issue of personal choice and responsibility in using substances and examine the context in which they are being used. Increasing public awareness of the potential for harm of all the drugs examined whether legal or illegal and finding ways of reducing the demand for psychoactive substances should be the focus rather than imposing harsh penalties for their use. “