Discussion surrounding alcohol and drug abuse often revolves around the consequences of substance abuse to the individual – and understandably so, considering the devastating effects of alcohol and drugs on the user. Alcohol and drug abuse is detrimental to the individual, but also results in substantial harm to family, friends, and society at large who are left to suffer as the collateral damage of addiction.

In a recent study, former government researchers from the UK sought to quantify the harm caused by commonly abused drugs. Ultimately, they were able to rank the most commonly abused drugs according to their overall harm, their potential to harm the user, and their potential to harm others. Although it is the only legal substance that was analyzed, alcohol outranked every other illegal drug both in terms of its overall harm and its potential to harm others.

Alcohol received an overall harm score of 72 out of 100. Of the ten drugs analyzed, alcohol was 46% more likely to cause serious harm to others and was found to result in the greatest collateral damage to society. Researchers broke down their analysis further, ranking these ten substances according to the type of harm most likely to result from abuse. Alcohol was found to be the most likely substance to result in the following types of harm: accidents and suicide, related disease, addiction, injury, family adversities, economic cost, and damage to the community.

Alcohol is especially harmful when intoxicated individuals get behind the wheel of a car. Over 15,000 people die annually in alcohol-related traffic accidents and over 40% of the total number of traffic fatalities each year are alcohol-related. Persons who commit DUI (driving under the influence) offenses are subject to severe legal consequences – including time spent in prison, heavy fees, and the inability to drive – as well as the irreparable emotional damage that comes with unintentionally inflicting harm upon others.

Drug abuse of any kind often leads to serious consequences, but many assume that because alcohol is legal it is less likely to cause harm. Studies such as this have shown, however, that alcohol is among the most harmful of substances, both to the individual and to society. The collateral damage associated with alcohol abuse is just not worth the risk.

If you or someone you care about has a serious problem with alcohol or drugs, seek professional treatment as soon as possible. The potential personal and collateral damage that could result from substance abuse is too great to go unchecked.

Video by 12 Keys Recovery